Policeman or politician? Which way Charles Owino

Former Police spokesperson Charles Owino

Former Police Spokesperson Charles Owino. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The move by the former Police Spokesman Charles Owino to endorse Ugenya parliamentary candidate on ODM ticket Dr Daniel Odhiambo has left people asking questions on his new role in the police service.

The law bars senior civil servants from engaging in active politics of the land.

Mr Owino, who was addressing the public for the first time since he controversially withdrew from the Siaya gubernatorial race as the running mate of former Rarieda legislator Eng Nicholas Gumbo hardly a month ago, called on the Ugenya electorate to rally behind Dr Odhiambo.

“My people, I want to report to you that this year I shall not support Mr David Ochieng (incumbent), the reason is that he doesn’t like me. When I declared my candidature for the Siaya gubernatorial seat he openly supported my opponent Mr Gumbo and when I opted to deputise Mr Gumbo he shifted to Mr Orengo’s side. This can only mean that he does not like me,” said Mr Owino when he addressed mourners at Mahui in Ugenya.

His sentiments were loud and with deep political undertones, since he has been very close with Mr Ochieng, who he is said to have supported to defend his seat in 2017.

Mr Ochieng won the seat on a Movement for Democracy and Growth (MDG) Party ticket, an outfit he founded after he defected from ODM.

When the Nation, reached out to the Ugenya MP, he preferred not to comment about the issue only saying he is focussed on building his party.

The former police spokesman further noted that the Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga wants only ODM candidates in the region.

“Baba and Mama (to mean Mr Odinga and Ms Martha Karua) want us to elect Dr Odhiambo, Mr Ochieng will now have to rest after delivering on his promises, he will one day come back either to seek senatorial position or gubernatorial seat,” he noted.

He added, “All those who supported my gubernatorial bid from Ugenya constituency kindly rally behind the ODM candidate Dr Odhiambo.”

His support for the Orange party after ditching it for the United Democratic Movement (UDM) party two months ago further opens a lid for speculations on his new role in the Police Service.

Mr Ochieng will be seeking a third term on his party MDG ticket, an affiliate of the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party.

The former Police Spokesman who had earlier requested for an early retirement to venture into elective politics was reinstated back to the police service, a step which was viewed as a move by the state to clip Mr Gumbo politically.

The duo (Mr Gumbo and Mr Owino) were contesting for the Siaya county top seat on a UDM ticket, and was considered a great threat to Senate Minority Leader James Orengo, the ODM candidate, for the same position.

Mr Owino, being a running mate of Mr Gumbo was viewed as a strategy to get the Ugenya votes and Alego Usonga votes consolidated; the former resides in Ugenya but traces his roots to the vote-rich Alego Usonga constituency.

At the public function Mr Owino, however, did not talk about his sudden departure from the race.

The former police spokesman’s short sojourn into the murky waters of Siaya politics may be described as comical but also strategic.

When he first declared his bid for the county’s top seat, he joined the Raila-led ODM party in a colourful ceremony where he was welcomed by the branch party officials and the elders from his Alego Karuoth Clan.

One month later Mr Owino abandoned his bid and teamed up with Mr Gumbo as his running mate on the little known UDM party.

The Orange party officials led by the Secretary General Edwin Sifuna faulted his move saying he was out to frustrate ODM in Mr Odinga’s backyard. He added that the former Cop only wanted to frustrate the Orange party, and that his teaming up with Mr Gumbo on a UDM ticket was ill intentioned.

In rejoinder at a press briefing Mr Gumbo and his running mate Mr Owino downplayed Mr Sifuna’s remarks saying their mission was to salvage the county from the shame of nothingness ten years after devolution.

“Mr Sifuna should give us a break, we know what is good for our people in Siaya, and our mission is to give devolution a meaning in Siaya County. Architects of devolution are from Siaya County and we need to make the county a good example for all other counties,” said Mr Owino earlier.

He later left the race after he was reinstated back to the police service forcing Mr Gumbo to look for an alternative running mate Mr David Ohito, a former scribe.

When contacted then, Mr Ohito, said Mr Owino notified the party three days before his withdrawal as the candidate citing what would constitute an election offence on his side after the National Police Service raised concerns with his ‘early retirement’.

Mr Owino, according to sources, was summoned to Vigilance House more than a month ago where the Service raised issues with his said ‘early retirement’ to join elective politics.

He even left his bodyguards in Kisumu to attend the highly secretive meeting.

There had been earlier attempts to reinstate him back to the police service from way back, with also claims that he had been promised a plum position in government, should he reconsider dropping his support for Mr Gumbo. According to his UDM party, Mr Owino will be taking up a new role within the NPS.

We could not immediately establish whether the former police boss has re-joined the Police Service as the Director of the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons which he held earlier, or has been redeployed.

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