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PAG church wrangles escalate as embattled leader is re-elected

By Jack Murima | Mar 29th 2019 | 3 min read
2,000 members held elections at 3am to elect new officials [PHOTO/DUNCAN OCHOLLA]

The simmering row at the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Church is far from over after some church members defied a court order and re-elected the General Superintendent in elections held at 3am.

Patrick Lihanda, who has been battling a host of court cases, was re-elected for another five-year term with 1,370 votes, beating two other contenders.

On Monday, High Court judge Jesse Njagi barred the church from submitting the names of the new officials to the Registrar of Societies until an application certified as urgent is heard and determined.

The court is also contemplating instituting contempt of court proceedings against Lihanda, his lawyer Aggrey Musiega and the Church Administrator Patrick Oyondi.

This is after one of the senior pastors, Tom Olendo, moved to court under a certificate of urgency, saying the superintendent had flouted court orders by going ahead to conduct the polls.

Lihanda is said to have mobilised over 2,000 delegates at Nyango’ri PAG headquaters in Vihiga for elections at 3am on March 3.

The petitioners now want the court to subject the three respondents to a six-month civil jail for defying a valid court order.

Mr Musiega, an advocate the court heard, advised Mr Lihanda to go ahead and conduct the controversial elections.

In a text message annexed in court documents, the lawyer assured that in case of any adverse eventuality, he will represent them in court.

“The document is an empty and desperate attempt to scare you. Proceed with your meeting without any fear, I will defend everyone,” read the text message.

On December 5, 2018, Justice Njagi issued an order of injunction prohibiting the church from conducting any elections which had been scheduled for December 6.

He further directed the parties to seek out of court agreement through the newly introduced Court Annexed Mediation (CAM).

If the contempt proceedings are instituted, the three risk being committed to civil jail. 

Trouble started  after four senior Bishops, Elijah Kathiari, Daniel Nyakundi, Mark Kakai and Solomon Kipkemboi filed a petition challenging the elections until the church’s constitution are amended.

The petitioners said the church’s 1998 constitution was discriminative and inconsistent with the Kenya’s 2010 constitution.

According to them, women and youths were segregated and cannot vie for the positions of General Superintendent, General Secretary and General Treasurer.

The petitioners also told the court that only pastors were allowed to vote thereby denying the members a chance to vote leaders of their choice.

Justice Njagi decided to handle the dispute after he learnt that the mediation he had earlier proposed to the warring factions was organised at an undisclosed place, unknown date and presided over by a person who was a stranger to the court proceedings.

The mediator, one Carolyne Kadenge Opanga was also enjoined in the petition for conducting a stage-managed process.

“The defendants have usurped the powers of administration of the church and are making unilateral decisions on behalf of the church,” said the petitioners.

They maintain that the ‘elected’ officials have no authority to run the church’s regional or national office or make any decisions on behalf of the church.

Justice Njagi directed the petitioners to serve the respondents with the application and slated the hearing for April 4.

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