November 28, 2021


The real reasons for Moi calling the inquiry to a halt are more prosaic than initially believed.

The story of the Gicheru inquiry into the Robert Ouko murder gets longer and more interesting the more you look into it.


More by Martin Minns

Cover Ups And Prosecution – Gicheru Ouko Murder Inquiry 30 Years On

Cover Ups And Prosecution – Gicheru Ouko Murder Inquiry 30 Years On

Detective Troon under pressure

Detective Superintendent John Troon was now under rigorous cross-examination for the first time at the Public Inquiry into the murder of Dr Robert Ouko. On the 21st November he suddenly announced that he had to fly to London. He never returned.

One of the myths about the Public Inquiry was that it was dramatically shut down because it was about to reveal the truth and that its winding up was part of high-level cover up to protect Hezekiah Oyugi (PS Internal Security) and Nicholas Biwott (Minister for Energy), both of whom were named in Troon’s Final Report for requiring ‘further investigation’.

The real reasons for Moi calling the inquiry to a halt are more prosaic.

International Pressure

Back in March 1991 a confidential telex from the British High Commission in Nairobi to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London reported that the ‘Ouko Commission of Inquiry [is] likely to be wound up soon’ and that Kenya’s Attorney General had told Tomkys at the High Commission that it would be brought to an end in mid-May.

The High Commission’s telex also suggested that, ‘It has been clear for some time that the inquiry was going nowhere.

On the day that Troon flew back to London for the last time Moi sacked Energy Minister, Nicholas Biwott.

Five days later on the 26th November 1991, donors reduced the flow of aid to Kenya, frustrated by the slow pace of reform and no doubt influenced by the controversy over Dr Ouko’s murder.

President Moi faced a financial crisis. Again, he acted quickly.

That morning, just as Hezekiah Oyugi was about to give his testimony, Moi announced that the Public Inquiry had been dissolved. He now appointed a team of Kenyan police officers to conduct ‘Further investigations’ into the death of Dr Robert Ouko ‘as recommended by the Troon report’.

Diplomat Telexes

The diplomatic community in Nairobi, however, were caught off guard.

‘We have just heard that the Ouko Commission has been summarily suspended… This was entirely unexpected’, read a telex from a Roger Tomkys at the High Commission to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

One reason the Commission had been disbanded, Tomkys surmised, quite correctly, was that its continuation might prejudice criminal prosecutions.

Another version of the story as to why the Commission had been disbanded, Tomkys went on, ‘suggests that the suspension was in order to prevent Oyugi testifying later this week and “telling all”.

But a few hours later that day Tomkys reported by telex that, ‘Initial doubts about the motives behind winding up the Ouko Commission of Inquiry have been disappeared with the publication in the official Kenya Gazette of a statement signed by the President directing the Commissioners to present a report by 31 January and instructing the Commissioner of Police to speed up further investigations with a view to finding sufficient evidence to convict persons involved in Ouko’s murder’.


Later the same day Oyugi, Nicholas Biwott and the DC for Nakuru, Jonah Anguka, were arrested. Also arrested were James Onyango K’Oyoo; Administrative Police Inspector Ajuoga; Ouko’s maid Selina Were; his lawyer George Oraro; banker Paul Gondi; Ouko Reru, Dr Ouko’s cousin and campaign manager; and Koru farm worker Philip Rodi.

All those arrested on the 26th November were released within a fortnight for lack of evidence. One man however, Jonah Anguka, the District Commissioner for Nakru, was re-arrested on the 10th December and formally charged with the murder of Dr Robert Ouko.

Previous, ‘Troon’s Fatally Flawed Report – Gicheru Ouko Murder Inquiry 30 Years On’

Next, ‘Aftermath: Jonah Anguka’s Trials – Gicheru Ouko Murder Inquiry 30 Years On’.


Related Articles