Kenya mourns the death of Chief of Defence Forces (KDF), General Francis Omondi Ogolla, who passed away on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in a helicopter accident in Sindar area on the border of West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties.

General Ogolla lost his life along with nine other officers who were aboard the military helicopter carrying a total of 11 KDF personnel when the accident occurred shortly after nine o’clock in the evening.

President William Ruto declared three days of mourning for General Ogolla and the other officers who died in the line of duty.

“It is a day of sorrow. Today our country has been struck by a tragic accident that claimed the life of Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces, General Francis Omondi Ogolla,” President Ruto told the nation, accompanied by top KDF commanders and Defence Minister Aden Duale at Nairobi’s State House.

The officers had just concluded an official visit to Cheptulel Boys High School in West Pokot, where they attended a meeting for about an hour.

President Ruto stated that General Ogolla and his team had been visiting troops assisting in the fight against poaching in the North Rift region.

Just a few minutes after seven o’clock, they were received by Deputy Commissioner of Pokot Central, Jeremiah Tumoh, and his counterpart from Chesegon, Naftali Korir, along with local chiefs and other administrative officers.

“A KDF team entered the tent we were in. Among them was Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla, who informed the residents that all schools affected by insecurity would be rebuilt by KDF personnel,” said Cheptulel resident Mr. Tito Lopuriang, who attended the meeting.

He said the military’s Buffalo helicopter departed a few minutes before nine o’clock, and shortly afterward, residents saw smoke after the helicopter crashed in Sindar area on the Marakwet side, about two kilometers from Chesegon.

“KDF security personnel at the scene used drones to assess the situation at the accident site,” he said.

Mr. Lopuriang initially said security officials suspected it was poachers who shot down the helicopter.

“The helicopter hit a tree and may have had technical issues,” he said.

Mr. Lopuriang revealed that KDF officers sealed off the accident site and did not allow anyone to approach it.

He said those who were rescued were taken to Kaben Health Center for treatment before being airlifted.

West Pokot County Commissioner Khalif Abdullahi confirmed that the helicopter crashed on the border of his county and Elgeyo Marakwet.

General Ogolla was appointed Chief of the Kenyan Defence Forces on April 28, 2023, following the retirement of General Robert Kibochi on April 28, 2023.

Before his appointment as Chief of Defence Forces, General Ogolla served as the Deputy Chief of KDF.

He studied at the École Militaire de Paris military college in France and at the National Defence College of Kenya.

Additionally, he holds a diploma in International Affairs and Military Science from Egerton University and degrees in Political Science, Conflict Resolution and Peace, and a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Nairobi.

He rose through the ranks in the air force to Major General and was appointed commander of the Kenya Air Force on July 15, 2018, a position he held for three years.

As Deputy Chief of KDF, he was blamed by the Kenya First coalition for allegedly being among members of the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) who visited the presidential election results tallying center at the Bomas of Kenya hall to pressure the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) not to announce a direct winner.

These allegations were denied by the Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition, and until his death, General Ogolla did not publicly address the issue.