Pastor Ezekiel seeks to halt bank accounts freeze


Pastor Ezekiel Odero at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa on May 02, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

Kilifi-based preacher Ezekiel Odero has moved to court seeking to stop threats by the government to freeze about 15 bank accounts linked to his church over claims of fraud and money laundering.

Pastor Odero was arrested on April 27 and detained as police sought to press charges against him over links to controversial pastor Paul Mackenzie, who is also in custody over the deaths of more than 100 church members.

Mr Mackenzie is under investigation over claims of helping people to kill themselves, aiding suicide, murder, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering.

“The threats to freeze my bank accounts and the church’s bank accounts is a double threat to my right to property and freedom of worship and association since the operations of the church, including ongoing construction and development projects within the church premises will stand paralysed,” he said.

Mr Odero of the new Life Prayer Centre says in the petition that he has no relationship with Mr Mackenzie and linking him to the preacher has no basis.

The police intend to charge him with money laundering, murder, crimes against humanity and fraud, among other offences.

An affidavit attached to the proceedings by the police alleges that church members dispose of their assets and surrender the proceeds to Mr Odero as they ‘prepare for their maker’.

Police officer George Muriuki said it was necessary to establish whether there are any dealings between the two preachers.

But Mr Odero said through his lawyer Danstan Omari that he had several projects, including a restaurant and plans to establish an international school, which is likely to stall if the accounts are frozen.

Mr Omari said the church has temporary accommodation for visitors who pay Sh500 for stay, which must not exceed five days.

“We have restaurants for all cadre of individuals, banking facilities and ongoing construction of modern facilities for visitors seeking spiritual healing and salvation,” said Mr Odero in the petition.

The cleric was arraigned in Shanzu Law Courts, which gave the police additional time to hold him temporarily as they conclude investigations against him.

He complained that the police have also sought to close his churches in Mavueni, Kilifi County and Shanzu in Mombasa County without giving him an explanation.

The Communications Authority of Kenya also shut down his TV station, World Evangelism TV, which is operated by his church — New Life Prayer Center — as a tool for spreading the gospel.

“There was no prior notice or warning issued to me or the administration of the church of such imminent action, which I have been advised by my advocates on record, runs afoul of Article 47 of the constitution,” he said.

He said the threats to freeze the church’s bank accounts at Co-operative Bank and NCBA banks will paralyse his ministry on baseless accusations that he is involved in fraud and money laundering.

Mr Odero said his only contact with Mr Mackenzie was purely commercial towards the purchase of the TV station at Sh3 million, but the deal collapsed.

“Moreover, my teachings, initiatives and focus in and out of the church are completely at variance with those of Mr Mackenzie,” he said.

The police further claim that persons who die at Mr Odero’s church are preserved at a private morgue in Kilifi before the bodies are transported to Shakahola where they were buried in secret graves.

Mr Odero has, however, dismissed the allegations saying the private mortuary is not linked to the church and is situated 11 kilometres away and it is also ‘unimaginable’ to transport bodies 200 kilometres away from Mavueni to Shakahola for burial.

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