State bars Pastor Ezekiel Odero from attending Bishop Pius Muiru's Machakos crusade

Pastor Ezekiel Odero

Pastor Ezekiel Odero conducts a Sunday Service at the New Life Prayer Centre Church in Mavueni area, Kilifi County on May 7, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Embattled Coast-based televangelist Ezekiel Odero has suffered a major blow after the Interior ministry barred him from holding a mega crusade in Machakos.

The controversial televangelist, who has a huge local and international following, is currently being investigated on a raft of charges including murder, aiding and abetting suicide, kidnapping, radicalisation, crimes against humanity, child abuse, fraud and money laundering.

The famous preacher, who runs a mega church in Mavueni, Kilifi County, was due to attend his spiritual father Bishop Pius Muiru's crusade in Machakos but was banned.

Bishop Muiru, who is also the founder of the Maximum Miracle Centre, poked fun at the matter and urged the state to allow Pastor Ezekiel to exercise his constitutional right to freedom of worship.

The police said the preacher could not hold a crusade because of the charges he faces in court.

"The county security committee has barred him from holding the crusade because of his court cases," said a senior police boss in Machakos, requesting anonymity and referring the Nation to Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki.

Bishop Muiru said Mr Odero, the founder of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church, should be free to hold any crusade he chooses.

"I was supposed to hold a crusade in Machakos and I'd invited Pastor Ezekiel, but the police told me to stop. This is a big blow to me after spending a lot of money on the crusade, we have incurred expenses similar to the Dodoma crusade which we had to postpone after Pastor Ezekiel was arrested," said Bishop Muiru in a telephone interview.

Pastor Ezekiel's lawyers, led by Danstan Omari, Cliff Ombeta, Duncan Osoro and Sam Nyaberi, said the state was harassing their client, who has yet to be charged.

"Pastor Ezekiel has lost over Sh500,000 after renting tents, sound system and posters among others after the state cancelled the Machakos crusade. But the biggest loss is to the believers who have been denied spiritual sustenance. Hundreds of worshippers who travelled from all over the country to attend the crusade have suffered?" asked Mr Omari.

He said his client would appear at the Coast Police Headquarters on Monday for questioning by the DCI as directed by the court.  However, he said Pastor Ezekiel has forgiven those who are fighting him.

Mr Ombeta said Bishop Muiru had already received permission from the police to hold the crusade, but when he started publicising it with Pastor Ezekiel's presence, he was told to cancel it.

"On the 9th, 10th and 11th of June, Pastor Ezekiel will be in Nairobi, he will apply for a permit to hold a crusade in Nairobi and if he is denied, we will know that there is more than meets the eye. We are reading mischief in this matter, the troubles he is facing are trials. This is pure harassment by the state," Mr Ombeta told a press conference in Mombasa.

He said the state was yet to release the results of the samples of 'holy water and handkerchiefs collected from Pastor Ezekiel's church and taken to a government laboratory for analysis.

"What exactly are we looking for? Why are we looking for an offence that does not exist?" asked Mr Ombeta.