Court certifies pastor Ezekiel Odero's bid to reopen church as urgent

Pastor Ezekiel Odero

New Life Church Leader Pastor Ezekiel Odero when he appeared in the dock at the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa May 4, 2023

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

A court in Mombasa County has certified as urgent, an application by pastor Ezekiel Odero for the State to reopen his New Life Prayer Centre and Church and restore broadcast by his television channel.

Presiding Judge Olga Sewe on Thursday ordered Mr Odero to serve the state with his documents and said the matter will be head on May 8.

Pastor Odero filed the matter under a certificate of urgency and wanted it heard on a priority basis.

In the case, he wants the court to stop State agencies from taking adverse actions against him,  including freezing the church’s eight bank accounts at Cooperative and  NCBA banks.

Pending the hearing and determination of his application, the televangelist wants the court to issue a conservatory order directing the State to refrain from interfering with the religious activities or prayer sessions in the church, to allow smooth operations.

He also wants the court to issue temporary conservatory orders staying the Communication Authority of Kenya's suspension of his television channel.

The CA suspended broadcasting by World Evangelism TV and Times TV, which are associated with televangelists Odero and Paul Mackenzie, respectively.

Director-General Ezra Chiloba said the two were found to have aired inappropriate content on exorcism during the watershed period. It added that World Evangelism committed 12 other violations while Times TV flouted 17 broadcasting license conditions.

Meanwhile, the State earlier admitted that the deaths that occurred at the pastor's church were reported to the police, but explained that at the time of this reporting, there was no reason to suspect criminal activity.

The government wants to detain the televangelist for 30 more days. Prosecutors told the Mombasa court on Thursday that they have new information on the Shakahola cult deaths, over which purported pastor Mackenzie is being investigated.

The prosecutor said post-mortems on some bodies exhumed in Shakahola reveal that some victims, mostly children, died due to strangulation.

The State termed this “new information” and said it amounted to “changed circumstances”.