Pastor Ezekiel denies funding Senators’ visit to Mavueni church

Controversial televangelist Ezekiel Odero has denied funding the Senate ad hoc committee investigating the Shakahola deaths to visit his New Life Prayer Centre Church in Mavueni, Kilifi County.

The committee, led by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana, visited the church on Monday as part of its investigations after being invited by the preacher when he appeared before them in Nairobi last Friday.

But speaking to journalists at Karisa Maitha grounds in Kilifi town on Wednesday, his lawyer Cliff Ombeta claimed they were unaware the committee was planning to honour the invitation even though it had always been Mr Odero’s wish for them to visit the facility to gather facts.

“There is no facilitation from Pastor Ezekiel to the Senate ad hoc committee to visit his church, not even a single shilling whether for the flight or food,” he said.

The preacher is defending himself against allegations linking him to controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie of Good News International Ministries, who is the prime suspect in the deaths of over 400 people in the Shakahola forest.

While on a mission to verify statements linking the preacher to the Shakahola massacre, the senators cleared Mr Odero of any involvement in the deaths of his congregants.

They said they did not find a mortuary or cemetery as alleged by some members of the public.

Speaking at the church premises on Monday, Mr Mungatana said the facilities where the bodies were suspected to be kept were found to have other uses.

“We have realised there is no mortuary, instead it’s a server room. Where it was claimed to be a cemetery we realised it’s a construction site. There are things we wanted to unearth and we have probed him further to explain some issues that were not clear. We are leaving this place satisfied that nothing was hidden, everything was open and we have inspected every place we wanted,” he said.

After the senators’ visit, questions arose as to who funded their trip, with a section of the committee secretariat saying the committee was not well constituted at the time and there was no budget to fund it.

According to Mr Ombeta, after they finished with the Senate in Nairobi on Friday, they travelled with Mr Odero to Kilifi to follow up on the stalemate in his planned crusade.

“Our prayers to have the crusade are still in place, and we had come to follow up but I was in the hotel when I was informed that the Senate ad hoc committee would visit the institution on Monday. We had no issues since we had prayed that they would visit the place to get the facts correct, and we were prepared to receive them,” he said.

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