Pastor Ezekiel withdraws case against the state on church closure

Pastor Ezekiel Odero. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Pastor Ezekiel Odero of New Life Centre and Church has withdrawn his suit against the state over the closure of his church, freezing of 27 bank accounts and switching off of World Evangelism TV.

But Odero wants Justice Olga Sewe to issue orders stopping the state from future interference with the church activities. The state closed Odero's church and froze bank accounts after linking him to Shakahola massacre.

In the petition, Odero sued the Attorney General, Inspector General of Police, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Communication Authority of Kenya CEO Ezra Chiloba, Ministry of Interior and Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Through his lawyers Dunstan Omari, Cliff Ombeta and Shadrack Wambui, the evangelist also seeks compensation for violation of his dignity, freedom of religion, expression, association and his right to administrative action.

Omari told Justice Olga Sewe that Odero is reasonably apprehensive that the state will actualise judicial threats to continue closing the church premises since through public announcement it took a malicious outrageous approach to try and win him together with one Paul Makenzi, the main suspect in the so-called "Shakahola massacre".

“An order of prohibition does hereby issue prohibiting the respondents either themselves or through their agents from closing or shutting down the ministry by the petitioner registered under the Societies Act in the name of New Life Center and Church or in any other manner acting in violation under article 32,33 and 36 of the Constitution,” said Omari in an amended petition.

He also sought costs of the petition and other reliefs the court may deem fit. He said the allegations against his client are unsubstantiated, scandalous and untrue. 

Odero had distanced himself from Makenzi and denounced his teachings.

“I would wish to strongly disassociate myself from one Paul Makenzi as we do not have any close familial or friendly ties. Moreover, my teachings, initiatives and focus in and out of the church are completely at variance with those that Makenzi is feared to be advocating for,” said Odero.

On April 28, 2023, Odero was arraigned before Shanzu court with police seeking to detain him for 30 days to have him investigated for murder, aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering. He is currently out on a cash bail of Sh1.5 million and a bond of Sh3 million.