Prison warden ‘abducted’ on his way home from work

Bernard Ochieng, a warden at Kibos Prison who was abducted by unknown men along Homa Bay-Rongo Road on April 29.

Photo credit: Pool.

A family in Nyandiwa in Suba sub-county is living in agony after their relative was abducted en route home from work in Kisumu County.

Mr Bernard Ochieng, a warden at the Kibos Prison, was abducted on April 29 on the Homa Bay-Rongo road by unknown people who were armed with guns before he was driven to an unknown location.

His wife Lilian Atieno said she only learned about the disappearance of her husband through a family friend who was with him on the day he went missing.

The warden had called his wife informing her that he had taken a short break from work and was heading for Nyandiwa, where he was supposed to deliver a chicken for his family to celebrate the good performance of their firstborn child who scored B in 2021 KCSE.

"He told me to prepare food and we were all supposed to have lunch as a family. We are still waiting for him," Ms Atieno said.

Boarded a PSV

The warden was reported to have boarded a public service vehicle at the Kisumu bus park.

He was with another security officer, who also hails from Nyandiwa and the two had met at the bus park.

According to Ms Atieno, the man who was seated next to her husband was a family friend who works at the Kodiaga prison, also as warden.

Their journey was smooth from Kisumu to Homa Bay town, where the two alighted, bought bottles of water and soda before proceeding with their journey.

Along the way, the vehicle made several stops at different trading centres but there was no indication that something was about to happen.

Ms Atieno said she was called by the family friend at 1.30pm that her husband had been abducted.

This was 30 minutes after she had spoken with him.

But the information about the alleged abduction didn't get to the police immediately, hindering chances of tracking him down.

It was reported that an unidentified Toyota Probox approached the PSV carrying the warden.

The incident happened near the Kabunde airstrip, about seven kilometres from Homa Bay town.

Ms Atieno said she was informed that armed men alighted from the Toyota Probox and ordered the driver of the passenger vehicle to stop.

"I was told they were four people who were all armed with guns. Their car was in front of the one my husband had boarded," she said.

According to a police report, Mr Ochieng was said to have been handcuffed and put in the waiting car.

This is after he was asked to identify himself as the armed men did not know who they were after.

Nobody could identify the men, who had civilian clothing, nor the number plates of the car, which had its boot open.

All this time, passengers who were with the warden, including his colleague from Kodiaga, watched in shock.

Passengers minded their business

After the car had been driven off, the rest of the passengers proceeded with their journey until they got to Nyandiwa, more than two hours later.

Ms Atieno faulted the passengers for failing to report the matter to police promptly.

"The family friend called asking for an alternative phone number for my husband. This was after he was taken away," he said.

The case was first reported at the Nyandiwa Police Station when it could have been reported at a police post at Kabunde, just a few metres from where the incident happened, or at the Rodi Police Station, five kilometres from the scene.

Ms Atieno said she didn’t know the whereabouts of her husband as she appealed to security agencies to speed up investigations into the matter.

"I am a housewife and have four children who depend on their father. One is joining university with others in Form Three, Class Eight and a five-month-old infant," she said.

Abed Kavoo, an officer with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Homa Bay, said the case had been reported to police and investigations were underway.

Police are relying on call logs to establish who Mr Ochieng was communicating with.

"He was using SMS while in the car. His phone went off 30 minutes after the abduction and it was near Asumbi in Rangwe sub-county," he said.

Investigators are also looking at the warden’s lifestyle and his work records.

Witnesses, including the driver of the PSV, some passengers, a group of boda boda riders and the warden from Kodiaga have written their statements, with Mr Kavoo saying they all match.

"The officer from Kodiaga said he thought the abductors were police officers based on the confidence they had. That is why he went past several police stations before reporting the case," Mr Kavoo said.

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