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Teen in police chase missing a month after last seen alive

 
Buka Onyango Okello was last seen alive at night on September 17, 2022, during a police chase around River Nyamasaria

Buka Onyango Okello was last seen alive at night on September 17, 2022, during a police chase around River Nyamasaria, Kisumu.

 

A witness has told Missing Voices he heard a cop cocking his gun during the pursuit. 

 

It is unclear whether the officer—donned in jungle green uniform, attached to Nyamasaria patrol base, and only identified as “Omosh”—fired his weapon. A witness said the gun was “big”. Police on patrol often carry an AK-47 rifle.

 

The whereabouts of Okello, 16, are unknown. His family has mounted a search.

 

A missing person report has been filed at Kisumu Central Police Station under OB number 12/19/09/22.

 

Okello’s family said police have been surveilling their home since their son disappeared. They are using a white Toyota Probox with blackened-out windows.

 

The Director of Criminal Investigation officers in Kisumu Central has told human rights defenders they are probing the incident.

 

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has already received a complaint from the Okello family.

 

Kisumu Peace and Justice Center is following up on the case. 

 

How it started

 

On the night Okello disappeared, he and two other friends—James Okoth, 25, and Cleophas Odhiambo, 23—went on a night out in Kisumu.

 

They traveled about 24 kilometers on a motorbike from Ahero to their destination, Sylvia Club in Kondele, Kisumu.

 

Okoth rode the red motorcycle with registration number KMFR 260C and model TVSHLX100.

 

When coming out of the club at about 9 pm, they met two other female friends hailing from Otonglo. They asked for a ride back home. All boarded. The ladies were to be dropped in Otonglo as Okello, Okoth, and Odhiambo proceeded to Ahero.

 

Because the bike exceeded the capacity, they did not use the main road to evade the police dragnet. But their route ended up at Nyamasaria bridge, where a police patrol base is. 

 

Okoth accelerated and police from this base, only identified as Olang’, used another motorbike to chase them down.

 

“It is at this moment that the four, Okoth, Okello, Odhiambo, and one of the ladies, jumped and ran,” Boniface Ogutu, the convener of Kisumu Peace and Justice Center, said.

 

Olang’ impounded the bike and briefly arrested the lady before releasing her.

 

The four regrouped to get the bike when they received a call from the arrested girl informing them of her release.

 

Okoth went to the patrol base to get the bike while the rest proceeded to where the girl was.

 

“Police told Okoth that they can only release the bike if Odhiambo surrenders,” Ogutu, who investigated the incident, said. It is uncertain why police were looking for Odhiambo.

 

Okoth left the base to where his friends assembled, and, without his knowledge, “Omosh”, a police officer, started trailing him.

 

When Okoth reunited with his colleagues, Okello spotted “Omosh” and started running towards River Nyamasaria. The cop followed him, his gun brandished and cocked.

 

The others were terrified and ran in the opposite direction. They boarded a tuk-tuk back home. They could not reach Okello because his phone was off.

 

The following day, September 18, 2022, Okoth and Odhiambo went to check on Okello at his rural home. He was not there. They informed his parents what had transpired.

 

They returned to the Nyamasaria patrol base, and police denied arresting Okello. But the motorbike was still there.

 

“At the base, an officer threatened one of the youth, warning him to relocate from Ahero and never come back, or he will ‘regret’,” Ogutu said.

 

Hopeless, Okello’s mother and his friends left the base and later reported the teen missing at Kisumu Central Police Station.

 

An officer who issued threats has been seen severally around Okello’s home while in a white Toyota Probox, said a source.

“They just want to intimidate us,” Okello’s mother, Mary Aluoch, said.

Aluoch wants her son back.

 

“Those responsible for his disappearances must be held accountable,” she said.

 

Okello is Aluoch’s sixth born.

 

Okello dropped out of Osino Primary School three years ago, his mother said, because she didn’t have enough money to keep him in class.

 

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