Kenya's Pastor Ezekiel Odero freed on Sh30 million cash bail

Pastor Ezekiel Odero with his followers outside the Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa County on May 4, 2023. NMG

A court on Thursday released pastor Ezekiel Odero from police custody, saying the State failed to give sufficient reason to extend his stay there.

Shanzu Senior Principal Magistrate Joe Omido released the televangelist on a KSh3 million bond or KSh1.5million cash bail.

He is to report the police once a week and has been barred from commenting on the Shakahola massacre.The terms of his release will last until investigations are completed or he is formally charged in court.

Pastor Odero and fellow televangelist Paul Mackenzie are under investigation for the Shakaloha tragedy in Kilifi County, that has seen more than a hundred people die from starvation, under Mackenzie's instructions. 

Mr Odero is being investigated for murder, aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud, money laundering and being an accessory to crimes.The government wanted to detain the televangelist for 30 more days as investigations continued. 

Prosecutors told the Mombasa court that they have new information on the Shakahola cult deaths, over which purported pastor Mackenzie is being investigated.

The prosecutor said post-mortems on some bodies exhumed in Shakahola reveal that some victims, mostly children, died due to strangulation. 

The State termed this “new information” and said it amounteThe State also admitted that the deaths that occurred at Mr Odero's church were reported to the police, but explained that at the time of this reporting, there was no reason to suspect criminal activity.

The pastor, through his lawyers, earlier admitted that 15 people have died while seeking spiritual interventions in his New Life Prayer Centre and Church, in the one year and a month it has been operational.

Through his advocates Cliff Ombeta , Danstan Omari and Shadrack Wamboi, Mr Odero said the 15 sought his help while in critical conditions.