Pastor Ezekiel Odero suspected of links to Shakahola deaths: Police

A combination picture of cult leader Paul Mackenzie (L) during an interview with Nation.Africa in Kilifi County on March 24, 2023, and preacher Ezekiel Odero speaking to Nation journalists on December 6, 2022.

The state has linked televangelist Ezekiel Ombok Odero to Kilifi cult leader Paul Mackenize, describing the two as individuals who share a history of business investment, particularly the TV station previously used to pass radicalised messages to their followers.

Some of these followers, the court heard, are believed to be among the hundreds of bodies so far exhumed at the Shakahola land linked to Mackenzie.

In documents filed before the Shanzu Court, the state says it has traced financial transactions between the two that led to the purchase of Times TV, which was previously owned by Mackenzie.

 “The respondent (Pastor Ezekiel) runs Times Television, which investigations have revealed he paid Sh500,000 as part payment for its purchase from Mackenzie, who is currently under probe in matters connected to the Shakahola massacre of innocent and vulnerable Kenyans,” State Counsels Jami Yamina and Peter Kiprop told Shanzu Chief Magistrate Joe Omido.

While relying to an affidavit sworn by Mr George Muriuki from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the senior state counsels said there is suspicion that some of the victims whose bodies have been exhumed from the Shakahola land had visited Pastor Ezekiel’s church for spiritual intervention.

The court also heard that police have established that several deaths occurred within the New Life Ministry in Mavueni and were recorded at the Kilifi police station under different occurrence book numbers between 2022 and 2023. This, the prosecutors said, gives credence to the intelligence information of deaths at the said church precincts.

“There is credible evidence linking the bodies exhumed from the 800 acres situated in Shakahola, associated with Mackenzie and his accomplices, with several innocent and vulnerable followers of his ministry believed to have met their death in their quest for divine intervention from Pastor Ezekiel, which intelligence has triggered police investigations,” said Mr Yamina.

Private mortuary

The court further heard that intelligence information has revealed that upon the demise of innocent and vulnerable followers of Pastor Ezekiel, their bodies were preserved at a privately run mortuary in Kilifi before being transported to Shakahola forest for burial.

“This information is the subject of the ongoing investigations,” said Mr Muriuki in a supporting affidavit, where he wants to hold Ezekiel for 30 days to allow for the completion of investigations.

It also emerged that police had collected various burial permits that were issued to several individuals whose names and contacts have been disclosed. The prosecution and the police say that these witnesses are vulnerable and hence the respondent may influence them should he be set free before the police get to the bottom of the mass killings at Shakahola that have shocked the country.

“We are apprehensive that Pastor Ezekiel may interfere with the individuals now regarded as potential witnesses before getting to the bottom of the question of whether dead bodies were indeed released to the kin for interment or buried at Shakahola under mysterious circumstances.

In the case of Mackenzie, the court heard that there are ongoing investigations that his followers would dispose of their earthly possessions and surrender the proceeds to him as part of the preparation to meet their maker.

“It is now necessary to establish whether there are any other dealings between Mackenzie and Pastor Ezekiel bordering on money laundering,” said the investigator.

Being a public interest matter, and given the nature of the offences committed, the prosecution submitted that it is in the respondent’s interest to remain in custody pending the completion of investigations for his own security and safety.

“I intend to undertake investigations to establish a nexus between extortion by Pastor Ezekiel and Mackenzie from the vulnerable person, and laundering the proceeds through establishing institutions like schools, petrol stations, farms, a media house and other institutions,” the officer said.

Mr Muriuki also said in the affidavit that he intends to undertake investigations to establish a possible violation of the Public Health Act by the respondent through his acts of influencing his followers to withdraw themselves from various communicable medical treatment methods and ultimately crowding persons suffering from various communicable diseases in an enclosed setting in the name of divine healing.

 “These offences as orchestrated depict an organised criminal group as defined under Section 2 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. The crimes under investigation by their nature, gravity and seriousness are complex and constitute a compelling ground to deny bail at this juncture and support continued detention of the respondents,” he said.

The court has been told that Ezekiel is being investigated in relation to serious crimes that he jointly conspired to commit including but not limited to the felony of murder, aiding suicide, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering and for being accessories before or after the fact.


However, Ezekiel blasted the police for incompetence, saying that the state is now acting desperately to link him to the Shakahola massacre despite the fact that he is not involved in the alleged killings.

Through his lawyer Jared Magolo, Ezekiel maintained that he is innocent and has never been involved in the Shakahola mass killings.

“The prosecution’s allegations are guesswork, innuendos and a disparate plea. Desperation is very dangerous. The state is desperate about what is happening in Shakahola. Ezekiel is not connected to Mackenzie and the death of hundreds in Shakahola. The question we are asking is where were the police when hundreds were being killed and buried in shallow graves? Asked Magolo.

“The mass killings and burials happened under the government’s watch. Those hundreds of people died while the security agencies were drawing salaries from the public coffers to protect them,” Magolo added.

The man of the cloth appeared to have admitted to buying the TV station from Mackenzie but said the business transaction should not be linked to the Shakahola massacre.

“The buying of the television cannot be connected to the Shakahola killings. If such an analogy were to be sustained, then all of us who have bought second-hand vehicles would be held responsible for the crimes committed by previous owners, including the fights with their spouses,” said Magolo.

Mr Magolo also said that his client should not be blamed or held responsible for the supposed death of the people, whether those deaths occurred at the precincts of his church or not, saying that death can find people anywhere.

“People seek spiritual intervention at the last moment when every medical intervention has failed. Now, if such a person dies are we supposed to turn to the pastor and blame him for the death?” Asked the advocate.

The advocate said the police and the DPP should have presented a draft charge while seeking to detain his client instead of coming to court with baseless allegations with no supporting evidence to curtail the rights of his client.

Mr Kiprop however insisted that there is sufficient evidence linking Ezekiel and Mackenzie based on interrogations and interviews already conducted by the police, including the commercial transaction between them.