Pastor Ezekiel Odero on Monday told the Senate Ad Hoc Committee investigating the proliferation of religious organizations that what he owns, including his wristwatch, comes from offerings from more than 45,000 church congregants.

Odero said the huge number of worshippers at his church made him a constant person of interest, with police officers visiting his church and home unannounced.

‘’The over 45,000 worshipers do not give little money. I don’t want to lie. You better take me to jail for telling the truth than leave me free to lie to the state and the congregants who trust me,” he said.

Odeo asked the committee to investigate how other churches use their offerings.

‘’You know sometimes pastors fear to say the truth about offerings, but I  have come here to tell you the truth. If it’s not little what do you do with it?’’ He further told the committee that he used his offerings to build the church as well as give back to the community.

“There is no wellwisher,  whether black or white, who has given us money. I do not use church money to cater to my family. I have a chicken business and that is what I use to school my three children,” the cleric added.

Odero, who appeared before the Danson Mungatana-led committee, also denied any links with suspected cult leader Paul Makenzi. “I don’t know where Shakahola is. I have never been to Shakahola. I only saw it on TV,” Odero told the committee.

The committee is probing the circumstances leading to the deaths of cult followers. Odero has had run-ins with the State since his arrest on April 27 over his alleged links to Makenzi, the main suspect in the probe into the Shakahola massacre.

Odero, who runs the New Life Prayer Centre and Church at Mavueni, Kilifi, appeared in Shanzu Court but did not take a plea on any charge as police sought more time for investigations.

According to court documents, Odero’s church was registered in 2012. The church boasts of 10 million followers, with the pastor claiming his troubles are instigated by his competitors.

An affidavit produced in court shows the prosecution claimed there was evidence that deaths occurred in Odero’s church, which were reported to the police on April 28.

The affidavit by a detective, George Muriuki, said a preliminary inquiry indicated that people who died at Odero’s church were buried at Shakahola Forest. [Marion Kithi]