Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has issued a statement following the arrest of New Life International Church leader Pastor Ezekiel Odero.
CS Kindiki: 100+ followers were rescued at Pastor Ezekiel's church during arrest
The government has embarked on an investigation into a number of deaths at Pastor Ezekiel Odero's church in Kilifi.
Confirming that the clergyman is being investigated under criminal charges regarding the deaths of his followers, CS Kindiki revealed that more than 100 people had been rescued at the church premises in Mavueni during his arrest on Thursday.
"It is notified for information of the general public that today Thursday, 27th April 2023, Mr Ezekiel Ombok Odero the Head of New Life Prayer Centre/Church at Mavueni within Malindi Sub-County of Kilifi County has been arrested and is being processed to face criminal charges related to mass killing of his followers," the CS reported.
Further, the 100 rescued followers are being treated as witnesses as authorities build a case against Pastor Ezekiel.
"The said Church has been shut down. The over 100 people who were holed up at the premises have been evacuated and will be required to record statements," CS Kindiki conveyed.
Dramatic arrest of Pastor Ezekiel Odero
Just a day after Pulse writer Denis Mwangi reported on a probe into bodies collected from the New Life Church, Pastor Ezekiel was apprehended by authorities in Mombasa County with preliminary reports indicating that he had been linked to Paul Mackenzie.
Pastor Odero is said to have driven himself to the police station shortly after being summoned for questioning, accompanied by his lawyers.
In a message posted after her husband was arrested, Sarah Odero denied accusations of involvement with the Mackenzie Good News International Church on behalf of their institution stating: "If anyone has any complaint, feel free to say it."
She later appealed for financial donations to bail Pastor Ezekiel out of jail.
"Mti mwenye matunda lazima urushwe mawe. Leo wamefunga kanisa ya Mungu and we need support kwanza baba yetu atoke safe house.
"[People throw stones at trees that bear fruit. Today they have closed God's church and we need support for our father to be released]" she posted.
How Pastor Ezekiel Odero rose to fame
The Kilifi-based pastor rose to prominence after a major church service he organised at the Moi Sports Centre (Kasarani Stadium) in Nairobi on November 27, 2022.
Baffled at how he managed to fill the 60,000-capacity stadium, many began to question and interrogate the miracles he claimed to have performed.
Deputy Rigathi Gachagua's wife, Pastor Dorcas Gachagua, seemed to have lent credibility to Pastor Ezekiel after attending and participating at the Kasarani mega rally.
The DP's wife is yet to speak on Pastor Ezekiel's arrest but she on Thursday addressed the issue of cult leader Mackenzie asking members of the public not to refer to him with the title of 'pastor'.
"If Paul Mackenzie has done a crime and he has been arrested, he should be treated as an individual. His family should not be questioned. The church should not be condemned because of one person. Paul Mackenzie is not the church, in fact, he does not refer to himself as a pastor he is Mr Paul and we should treat him as he is.
“A criminal is a criminal, alone, a terrorist is a terrorist, we should talk about these things because if we don’t we will be labeled as criminals. We have more than three billion Christians across the world and you cannot collectively say they are criminals," she stated on Thursday.
As a member of the clergy and because of her association with Pastor Ezekiel, a section of Kenyans online are calling for clarification from Mrs Gachagua concerning her ties with the embattled miracle-worker.
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