By Sam Kiplagat,
A Milimani court has frozen more than 25 bank accounts and money in MPesa linked to Kilifi preacher Ezekiel Odera over claims of money laundering.
The court blocked Pastor Odera and his associates from withdrawing or transferring the money for at least 30 days, as the police probe claims of money laundering.
The order was served to respective managers at Co-operative Bank, NCBA Bank, Equity, KCB Bank, HFC Bank and Safaricom.
“Whereas it has been proven to this honourable court on oath that for the purpose of investigation into the commission of offences of money laundering contrary to section 3, 4 and 7 of POCAMLA Act, it is necessary and desirable to issue the following orders,” the court.
Earlier on Monday, his lawyers Danstan Omari and Cliff Ombeta protested the closure of bank accounts belonging to Pastor Ezekiel, his wife, children and church.
"They include his personal account, his wife's and the church's account," Mr Omari said in Mombasa on Monday.
They said that as Pastor Ezekiel's legal team was battling the State before Mombasa High Court Judge Olga Sewe, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had moved to Milimani seeking orders to freeze all banks and M-Pesa accounts related to his New Life Prayer Centre and Church.
“Today, we were at the High Court asking the State not to freeze the accounts of the church of Pastor Ezekiel, not to close the church. However, the State has gone ahead and applied for orders in a lower court in Nairobi,” said Mr Ombeta.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) claimed the preacher has been receiving huge transactions, suspected to be proceeds of illicit cash.
The police said in the application that they suspect the money was from victims who were radicalised and made to sell their properties and gave the proceeds to the preacher.
The police also believe that Mr Odera has links to controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie, who is in custody after more than 100 bodies were retrieved from an expansive farm in Shakahola, where he runs Good News international church.
Police officer Martin Munene said in an affidavit that they investigating Pastor Mackenzie over claims of organ harvesting and it is their belief that he is an associate of Pastor Odero.
The frozen bank accounts are in the names of Kilifi International School, with 16 bank accounts at Co-op bank, seven bank accounts at NCBA in the name of the school and one account each registered in Pastor Odero’s name at Equity Bank, KCB and HFC.
Seven mobile phones numbers have been registered in Mr Odera’s name. The police said the funds will be moved unless stopped by the court.
The move comes a few days after Mr Odero moved to the High Court seeking to stop threats by the government to freeze the bank accounts.
Pastor Odero was arrested on April 27 and detained as police sought to press charges against him. He was released on bond after spending several days in custody.
Mr Mackenzie is under investigations over claims of aiding people to kill themselves, aiding suicide, murder, abduction, radicalisation, and 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 with the church premises will stand paralysed,” he said.
Mr Odero has no relationship with Mr Mackenzie and linking him to the preacher has no basis.
He also sued the police over the closure his churches in Mavueni, Kilifi county and Shanzu in Mombasa county without giving him an explanation.
Mr Odero has also sued the Communications Authority of Kenya for shutting down his TV station, the World Evangelism TV, which is operated by his church.