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State to pay Sh100m to church

By ABIUD OCHIENG February 15th, 2014 2 min read

Treasury is grappling with the payment of over Sh100 million, which a local church is seeking after successfully arguing out  its case in court.

St Teresa Legio Maria of Mission was awarded the money by the High Court in April last year, but Treasury is yet to channel the award into  the church’s account.

The dispute followed the withholding and disposal of a second-hand clothes consignment, which the church had imported in 1983.

Church Secretary Pastor Edwin Otieno said he had visited the Netherlands where he met some friends of the church.

“These foreign friends agreed to buy and send some clothes as donation to the church members,” said Pastor Otieno.

Unfortunately around the time the cargo reached Kenya, there was a regulation imposed by the Office of the President which placed a ban on the importation of second hand clothes.

The church obtained permission for the release of the goods, but they had already been sold by  way of private treaty.

The court later found that the action by the State was unlawful and directed the church to be compensated to the tune of Sh51, 182,151 in a judgment delivered in 2008.

Payment has not been forthcoming despite successive budgetary allocations to various ministries, leading to interests accumulating to the current Sh111, 759, 491. The case will be mentioned on April 7.

The church which has over a million followers in East Africa is not, however, new to controversy as in 2009 the Court of Appeal gave a ruling that ended a decade-old leadership conflict, a dispute that went down as the most contested tussle in the church’s history.

The church founder, His Highness Baba Messiah Melkio Ondeto, had during his lifetime appointed four Cardinals to take over his position upon his death.

They were Cardinal Deans Timothy Blasio Ahitler — who later became Pope —  Lawrence Pius Chiaji,  Wilson Petro Owino Obimbo and Raphael Otieno.

Pope Ahitler, who succeeded Ondeto, later suspended Cardinal Obimbo as a disciplinary measure for an error he is alleged to have committed.

Ahitler then died and was succeeded by Pope Chiaji and later the Pope’s position was passed over to Cardinal Otieno.

Cardinal Dean Obimbo then contested the move, saying he was the third pre-determined Pope as per the directives left behind by Pope Ondeto.

Pope Otieno, who led a faction of the church, however, maintained that Cardinal Obimbo remained suspended having not been cleared of his wrong doing and hence could not be entrusted with the church’s leadership.

The church’s constitution states that “subsequent ascension to the leadership of ‘Baba Mtakatifu Popo’ would be determined with the Holy Spirit”.

But in an attempt to resolve the dispute, Justice Mohamed Warsame ordered for elections within 30 days in January 2007.