A former Kamiti convict, jailed for life imprisonment on murder charges, recently opened up on how an emotional letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta salvaged him from rotting in prison.
48-year-old Peter Ouko stated that he was falsely convicted for murdering his wife in December 1998, a crime he denied committing. It, however, stole 18 years of his life and denied him the opportunity to spend a huge part of it with his kids who missed parental love.
At the time of his arrest, his son was five years old, while his daughter was three.
“It really broke my heart, knowing that I couldn’t be there for them when they needed me the most,” Ouko highlights.
In August 2016, he decided to write to President Uhuru, asking to be pardoned so that he could see his son clear university education after he missed out on seeing him finish primary and secondary school. The move paid off as it touched Uhuru’s heart and he was released from prison.
“In October of that year, the Commissioner-General informed me that the president had signed the letter and I could go home with my colleagues. I was so excited. I was not there for my kids class eight and form four graduations, and now they are going to clear university and I felt worthless and that I had failed as a father for not being there for them,” Ouko emotionally narrated.
“I remember I took a leap of faith, went to my laptop and told him that even though I didn’t agree with the decision of the law to jail me, I respected the rule of the law. I also explained that the reason why I was writing to him was to request him to let me go see my son,” he added.
In 1998 December 19, Ouko was informed that his wife was killed outside Buru Buru Police Station. He headed to the station to find out how she was killed and under what circumstances.
However, he was arrested over the incident and was held in remand from 1999 January to May 2001.
After six days in remand, Ouko was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife and had to call Kamiti ‘home’ for a number of years.
He had the first glimpse of his daughter, eight years later, when his mum brought her along with his niece.
“My happiest moment was when I heard my daughters voice after eight years. I didn’t want to mention it but it also was one of my most embarrassing moments as I could not recognise my daughter. She had grown into this vivacious girl,” Ouko heartily recalled with a large smile.
In prison, Ouko managed to study Law after a meeting with former Attorney General Amos Wako. Ouko had been invited by the Judicial Service Commission to voice the perspective of inmates concerning the 2010 constitution. Wako would later send him a confidential letter asking him to join a university of his choice and facilitated his study.
He became the first Kenyan to graduate with a diploma in law while serving a life sentence in prison. When he was pardoned in 2016, he was received at the prison’s gate by his mother, sister, and friends, who were in tears.
His son is currently an electrical engineer, while the girl followed in his footsteps to be a lawyer.
The advocate currently spends his time in Ngara where he runs his initiative called Crime Si Poa (Crime is Evil), which teaches the society about consequences of crime and helps ex-inmates start life after prison.