I'm not like them, says Yesu wa Tongaren

Eliud Wekesa also known as Yesu Wa Tongaren being escorted with police to Bungoma law courts on May 11, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Eliud Wekesa, also known as Yesu wa Tongaren, has been set free after the prosecution said they have no evidence against him.

Wekesa, leader of the New Jerusalem Church, had spent five days in police cells by the time Bungoma Principal Magistrate Tom Orlando freed him yesterday.

Detectives have been investigating him for offences relating to his teachings, which they had termed as offensive and against the law.

He was arrested on Thursday last week and questioned by sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for two days.

The police had accused him of running a religious cult similar to Paul Makenzi’s in Shakahola, Kilifi County, where 211 bodies have been exhumed and over 610 people are still missing. Many of his followers are believed  to have starved themselves to death in the name of fasting in order to meet ‘Jesus Christ’.

The police had accused Wekesa of engaging in cultism in Tongaren, claiming to be Jesus Christ. The officers said he had been teaching radical ideologies to his followers while engaging in money laundering, accusations that have all been dropped.

The prosecution had also said they had reasons to believe there were criminal activities of indoctrination being carried out at Wekesa’s church.

Last Friday, the court granted the prosecution four days to hold the suspect so they can complete their investigations. However, the investigators found nothing incriminating against him.

Wekesa’s lawyer George Wajackoya condemned the arrest of ‘Yesu wa Tongaren’, saying it was politically instigated by leaders from Bungoma County.

“It is very wrong to incriminate a religious leader based on the Shakahola incident. This man is very innocent and his arrest was purely political. A lot of Bungoma leaders, including the governor, were on the forefront pushing for his arrest,” Wajackoya told the court.

He further noted that every religious leader has a right to preach the word of God and is protected by the Constitution.

The magistrate ruled that Wekesa had no case to answer after the prosecution failed to adduce any evidence. “The suspect has not been found with any offence following investigations that were done by police and therefore is set him free,” ruled Orlando.

Wekesa thanked the court, saying; “It is God’s doing”. “I had earlier on said my lawyers would be the sun and the moon, but God came through and placed a rainbow on my side in the form of lawyer Simiyu Wamalwa who has stood with me since the beginning, and Prof Wajackoya who has come today to stand with me. I don’t take it for granted,” he said.

Wekesa claimed that he is not like other men of God who thrive in wealth, but instead leads a simple and truthful life.

“On Saturday, I went with some police officers to my home during their investigations, and I was glad, being a sabbath day, they got a chance to witness and count the offerings that were collected; Sh250, six tomatoes and four onions,” said Wekesa.

He added that his only wealth is his beard and the hair on his head.