Pentecostals reject President Ruto's task force to probe churches

Detectives loading an exhumed body into a police car at Shakahola in Malindi, Kilifi County, on March 21. [File, Standard]

The religious leaders termed President Ruto's move to gazette the committee as a knee-jerk reaction to the massacre of members of a cult in Shakahola, Kilifi County.

"The President's move is likely to affect freedom of worship. The Head of State should revoke the committee and come up with an all-inclusive one. Membership of the task force will determine its results. The results are as good as the membership," Bishop Hudson Ndeda, the chairman of the Church and Clergy Association of Kenya, said.

He added: "To this end, we are apprehensive that failure to include us in the task force will prejudice and oppress the Pentecostal and charismatic churches. As Pentecostals, we vehemently oppose the task force.

"The said task force was established without any consultation with the Pentecostal umbrella bodies and was ill-advised. None of the people gazetted are from our collective association. For this reason, we feel the final report might be biased against Pentecostal and charismatic churches," Ndeda said.

Ndenda noted the church is already regulated, under the Societies Act, and that there are other measures to ensure self-regulation.

"That is why we feel it is unfair to form a team to come up with new regulations every time an individual is found to have committed an offence. We do not see the same approach taken when dealing with, let's say, rogue doctors, lawyers, and teachers," Bishop Ndeda said.

Also present at Tuesday's briefing in Nairobi were representatives from the Association of Registered Churches Kenya, Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches and Ministries, Beulah Clergy United Association, House of Clergy, Hope of Kenya Pastors and Charismatic Churches of Kenya.

Mr Paul Makenzi, the alleged mastermind of the Shakahola massacre of followers of his Good News International Church, at Shanzu Law Courts on May 5. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Bishop Elizabeth Thuiya of the House of Clergy said none of the gazetted persons is leaders in the collective association. "The report will definitely be biased against Pentecostal and Charismatic churches," she said.

Azimio has also challenged President Ruto's appointment of a judicial commission to probe Shakahola deaths.

The team led by Raila Odinga argues Ruto has usurped the powers of among others the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Judiciary and Parliament.

Azimio's lawyer Paul Mwangi argues that Ruto has hijacked the criminal justice system without the powers to do so, and appoint judges without reference to Chief Justice Martha Koome which he said is illegal.