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Reprieve for pastor Ezekiel Odero as court suspends order to derigester church

The High Court has suspended a decision by the Registrar of Societies to derigester controversial pastor Ezekiel Odero’s church.

In a brief ruling, Justice Jairus Ngaah said a lawsuit filed by Odero and two members of his church namely Franklin Kilonzo and Alice Nafula Wanyama which challenged the decision raises substantial issues of law which need to be canvassed at a full trial.

Specifically, the court pointed at the move to derigester the church without giving its management an opportunity to be heard.

Court heard the church was deregistered on May 19, 2023, but the official gazette notice was published on August 18,2023.

“Pending the interrogation by this court on the question whether the process leading to deregistration of New Life Prayer Center and church was consistent with the law of the land and in particular whether it was legal, rational and procedural fair to the New Life Prayer Center and Church the Gazette notice of August 18 2023, remain suspended pending further directions of the court, ” ruled Justice Ngaah.

The judge gave the ex parte orders following an application by the petitioners lawyers namely Danstan Omari, Samson Nyaberi, Cliff Ombeta and Shadrack Wambui. They argued the move by government was unlawfully meant to frustrate and obstruct the operations of the church.

Ombeta told the court that over 8,000 people get their daily wages from the operations in the church and the upcoming Kilifi International University and an airstrip.

The lawyers informed the judge the application is extremely urgent and urged him to suspend the move by the Registrar of societies.

They argued that the government through the Registrar of Societies intentionally and maliciously conspired to make
unavailable the church’s file in a bid to frustrate Odero’s church efforts to remain in compliance with the Societies Act by filing its Annual Returns on time.

“There is an obvious scheme to frustrate and obstruct the Church operations of his church, he only became aware of the notice to show cause through media outlets, eight days after the expiry of the intended 21-day notice, ” Omari argued.
“We had no prior information as to the decision of the Registrar of Societies to cancel the Registration of our church and was not given any opportunities to defend himself and the church in order to avert the deregistration, ” Odero and the church officials told the court.

Further, Odero and his church officials urged the court to quash Registrar’s illegal directive to cancel the registration of the church.

Odero says the calculated scheme by the Registrar of Societies cancelling the registration of the church on May 19, 2023 and published on August 18, 2023, yet the church only became aware of the notice to show cause on May 25 2023, is in a bid to frustrate the church right to fair administrative action in light of his upcoming ‘Meza ya Bwana (holy communion)’ international conference, scheduled to take place over 14 days.

The case will be mentioned on September 20 for further directions.

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