Nairobi News

HashtagMust ReadNewsWhat's Hot

Lawyers concerned over Mackenzie’s mention in Pastor Odero case

The mention of the name of Pastor Paul Mackenzie of the Shakahola massacre in Pastor Ezekiel Odero’s bank account freezing case shocked his lawyers and sparked a bitter protest as the court clarified that the 30 accounts would remain inactive for 30 days.

Lawyers Danstan Omari and Cliff Ombeta accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) of misleading the court.

“Our client has nothing to do with Pastor Mackenzie. Shakahola has nothing to do with Mavueni Church. Mackenzie is being investigated for the horror murders. Pastor Odero has nothing to do with Shakahola. Open his bank accounts,” Omari said.

He told Milimani magistrate Ben Mark Ekhubi that the order served on them stated that the bank accounts should be frozen for 30 days.

“We are shocked to hear that this court has revealed that the orders it issued were for 10 days and 30 days,” Omari told Ekhubi.

Milimani magistrate Ben Mark Ekhubi clarified his orders freezing Pastor Ezekiel Odero’s 30 bank accounts. PHOTO| RICHARD MUNGUTI

Also read: Bishop Pius Muiru explains special relationship with ‘son’ Pastor Ezekiel Odero

He added that the act of the DCI “extracting his own order and not that of the court puts it in a bad light and portrays it as dishonest”.

The lawyer urged the court to close the case and allow Pastor Odero to happily proceed to his bank accounts and withdraw Sh100 million to fund the running of the 3,000-student school and the 45,000-seat church.

“This case was mentioned on May 17 for the DCI to confirm compliance with the court orders by the DCI and the banks,” prosecutor Virgnia Kariuki reminded the magistrate.

But she said Omari had filed another application seeking to have the 30-day freezing orders reviewed and/or set aside on the grounds that he was not involved in money laundering.

“I don’t know why the defence lawyers are angry with the DPP/DCI, the order was for 30 days. I urge this court to take a position because the commission set up by President William Ruto to investigate the Shakahola killings is about to commence work,” Ms Kariuki told the judge.

Omari protested that the DPP was intimidating the judge by mentioning the President’s name.

To calm the parties, Mr Ekhubi clarified that the orders he gave were for 30 days to allow the DCI to investigate Pastor Odero’s accounts to establish the source of the funds.

Also read: Pastor Ezekiel Odero lawyers differ with his supporters inside church

Ms Kariuki said she had filed a preliminary objection to Pastor Odero’s fresh review application.

Mr Ekhubi ordered the case to be heard on Thursday, May 18, morning and allowed the DPP to file more evidence in his bid to oppose the review of the 30-day freezing orders.

Earlier, Omari had submitted: “The 10-day freezing order on the 30 bank accounts expires today (17 May). Lawyers express concern over mention of Pastor Mackenzie’s name in Pastor Odero’s account freezing case. Therefore, there is no ruling to be made on the re-opening of the church accounts.”

The preacher is pleading with the court to allow him to withdraw Sh100 million to fund school and church activities.

In the suit filed by Omari, Shadrack Wamboi, Martina Suiga and Samson Nyaberi, the pastor says the church and school have ground to a halt.

“The financial overheads of running New Life Prayer Centre & Church and Kilifi International School have come to a head and cannot wait for the 30 days as directed by the court on May 8, 2023,” Omari says in the fresh suit.

The new case reveals that Odero spends between Sh50 million and Sh100 million a month on sponsorship for the education of over 3,000 pupils.

Also read: TV stations linked to Pastor Odero, cult leader Mackenzie taken off air

The lawyers asked that the 30 accounts and seven MPesa lines be unfrozen so that the construction of the Kilifi International University, which is due to open its doors to students in October, can resume.

“We urge this court to reduce the investigation period from 30 days to 15 days to enable the resumption of school and church activities,” Omari prays.

He adds: “That the cash flow problems caused by the freezing of the applicants’ accounts are having a negative impact on the workers and students of New Life Prayer Centre & Church and Kilifi International School.

In the case, Pastor Odero has named the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Cooperative Bank, NCBA Bank, Equity Bank, KCB Bank, HFCK Bank and Safaricom as respondents.
Police say they suspect the money came from victims who were radicalised and forced to sell their properties and give the proceeds to the preacher.

The ongoing investigations into Odero were filed by police days after Mackenzie was arrested and detained and is being investigated on charges of assisting people to commit suicide, assisting suicide, murder, kidnapping, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering.

Also read: Salasya: Leave Pastor Ezekiel Odero alone!