Handkerchiefs and ‘holy water’ from Pastor Ezekiel church taken for tests

Pastor Ezekiel Odero

Pastor Ezekiel Odero during a service at his New Life Prayer Centre Church in Mavueni, Kilifi County, on May 7, 2023. 

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Samples of the “holy water” and handkerchiefs used at controversial Pastor Ezekiel Odero’s church in Mavueni, Kilifi County, have been sent to the government laboratory for testing.

It emerged that these were among various items, including communication gadgets, that detectives carted away from the New Life Prayer Centre and Church during last week’s raid.

Through lawyers Jared Magolo, Danstan Omari, Cliff Ombeta and Shadrack Wamboi, the pastor told the Mombasa High Court on Monday May 29 that the detectives raided his church armed with a search warrant.

"The detectives took away the living water and the handkerchief for laboratory tests," Mr Omari told Justice Olga Sewe. Lawyers told the court that the search warrant had been obtained from a Mombasa magistrate's court.

The Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) is said to have raided the church and seized computer drives and other communication devices.

The raid came after the Registrar of Societies issued a notice to de-register the church for allegedly failing to file tax returns.

On Monday May 29, Mr Odero, popularly known as Pastor Ezekiel, told Justice Sewe that he had already instructed his lawyers to file petitions challenging the notice issued by the society to de-register his church.

"We have instructions from the pastor to deal with the Registrar of Societies in another forum," Mr Omari said.

The televangelist has also failed to agree with the State on the status of his petition against the government over the suspension of the frequency of his World Evangelism television channel.

Pastor Ezekiel's assistant reassures flock that church will reopen

His lawyers told the court that the televangelist had dropped several orders he had sought from the court following events after his arrest over the Shakahola massacre.

"The issue of bank accounts has already been resolved by a Nairobi magistrate court. All accounts belonging to the church and the school have been opened and the institutions are now running smoothly. The 10 million followers of the church are being served," said Mr Omari.

On the issue of the television frequency, the lawyers said they would seek redress at the High Court in Nairobi after being informed that the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal was not properly constituted.

"We appeared before the tribunal as directed by this court but we were told that there was no quorum, the tribunal has been in limbo for a year now, so that route has collapsed and we are going to seek alternative ways of dealing with this plight of the 10 million followers of the church. This will no longer be a prayer before this court," said Mr Omari.

New Life Church Leader Pastor Ezekiel Odero when he appeared before the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa in this photo taken on April 28, 2023

Photo credit: Kevin Odit I Nation Media Group

Mr Magolo and Mr Wamboi asked the court to declare the petition closed and asked the State to give an undertaking that the police would no longer interfere with the church's activities.

"So we are more or less in agreement that there will be no interference with the church. We can call this matter settled by agreement," said Mr Magolo.

Mr Wamboi said most of the issues in the petition had been resolved after extensive discussions with the State.

However, Mr Emmanuel Makuto and Ms Maureen Anyumba, representing the attorney-general (AG) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) respectively, agreed that the church was not closed but urged the court that no order should be made preventing the State from accessing the church.

"Investigations are ongoing and the state may need to take action depending on the outcome of the investigation. Issuing such orders will hamper any enforcement. That is why we did not agree to this part of the petitioner's prayer," Mr Makuto said.

The lawyer, however, noted that any further action that may be taken, if necessitated by the investigation, will be done in a lawful manner and that the pastor will have the right to return to court for any relief.

Mrs Anyumba said Pastor Odero and the ODPP had agreed to withdraw the petition, but noted that there were no conditions attached to the agreement.

The lawyer suggested that the parties go back to the drawing board, agree and record an unconditional consent.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said it was not interested in Pastor Odero's case.

"We have no legal interest in the matter, we did not intend to be involved in the matter. We were just listed but are not interested," said EACC lawyer Maronda Ongeri. Judge Sewe said the court could not give piecemeal relief and ordered the State to report back on the progress of the investigation within a month. The matter will come up on July 13.