A High Court in Nakuru has brought to an end an over decade-long leadership dispute at Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya, accusing its bishop of causing confusion.
Efforts to have the dispute addressed earlier by spiritual leaders failed to bear fruit before spilling to court in June 2011.
John Mboi, James Kingori, Lawrence Kamutu, and David Kuria in their capacities as chairman, secretary, treasurer, and assistant treasurer respectively, on behalf of Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya, filed the suit at the High Court in Nakuru.
They sued Cyrus Karanja, Stanley Kamuiru, Robert Njehia, Oliver Kinyanjui, Joseph Karunda, Francis Kariuki, Henry Kigera, Paul Muragu, and Julius Kariithi, seeking to have them barred from disrupting or in any way interfering with the management of the affairs of its churches at Karagita, Rimunga, Mara–Njau Kasambara, and Nyahururu.
The applicants, in their suit papers, said the nine were no longer part of the church after they were defrocked and or excommunicated.
Both Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya (the plaintiff) and Victorious Community Church were registered by one Bishop Jackson Maina on different dates.
Lawrence Kamutu Wamuguunda, in his testimony, said that he was a pastor with Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya as well as the treasurer and was based at the Naivasha church since 1991.
Kamutu enumerated the officials of Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya, excluding the nine defendants.
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Njoroge, who testified on behalf of the nine defendants, said he was the bishop and leader of the Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya together with the other defendants.
He said Mboi, Kingori, Kamutu, and Kuria were not officials of the said church.
Njoroge said the genesis of the problem was when Bishop Maina ordained pastors and issued them with certificates of ordination for Victorious Community Church instead of Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya.
Stanley Njau testified that he had been a pastor with Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya since 1998 and that he was one of those captured in the video during ordination led by Bishop Maina, an event that happened at the church's head office at Mwariki.
Njau denied that he was a member of Victorious Community Church. All along, he said, he knew his ordination was to serve in the Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya.
He said that as a matter of evidence, he continued to receive a salary up to August 11, 2008, which was signed by Bishop Maina.
Justice Hillary Chemitei, in his judgment, said he was not convinced that a December 31, 2007, Annual General Meeting that Mboi, Kingori, Kamutu, and Kuria were supposedly endorsed as officials of Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya was properly called.
The court noted that Kingori and Kamutu, during cross-examination, were not sure whether the meeting was done at Nakuru Ponda Mali church headquarters or Subukia.
The court noted that the minutes produced were unreliable as they were undated, incomplete, and completely incomprehensible to be used as evidence of such an important meeting.
It took judicial notice and the admission by parties in the case that going by the chaos that erupted after the General Election of 2007, it was not foreseeable to hold any AGM.
The court concluded that there was no AGM held in December 2007.
Mboi, Kingori, Kamutu, and Kuria, it was revealed, filed returns on Sunday, January 20, 2008.
“This was not an official working day and the same in my view looks very suspicious for want of official stamps among others,” ruled the judge.
The court said having compared the defendant’s annual returns which they produced for the period 2007-2011 and cumulatively were all official documents from the Registrar of Societies.
The court said it was satisfied that Karanja, Kamuiru, Njehia, Kinyanjui, Karunda, Kariuki, Kigera, Muragu, and Kariithi were legitimate officials of the Victorious Gospel International Church of Kenya.
While dismissing the suit filed on behalf of the church, the judge said he lays blame squarely under the feet of Bishop Maina who in his view created the whole confusion for reasons best known to himself.
“In any case, there was no reason for the said bishop to have hoodwinked the said pastors yet for all intentions and purposes he was their spiritual leader. He failed and has therefore caused this confusion and stress in the two churches. The said bishop, in my view, has the answer to the issues raised in this suit. The case is nonetheless dismissed with costs to the defendants,” said the judge.