- Cleric Joseph Chenge and other six accomplices were arraigned in Mbita court after police arrested them at their church in Ochieng Odiere village in Ruri, Suba North constituency.
- Police arrested them on Wednesday evening on the grounds that they were promoting religious teachings with questionable practices.
Prosecutions officers have asked the Mbita law court to allow them to detain for 30 days a clergyman who wanted to meet President William Ruto.
Cleric Joseph Chenge and other six accomplices were arraigned in Mbita court after police arrested them at their church in Ochieng Odiere village in Ruri, Suba North constituency.
Police arrested them on Wednesday evening on the grounds that they were promoting religious teachings with questionable practices.
On Thursday, senior prosecution counsel Charles Mwangi asked the court to give them more than 30 days to detain the suspects to give the police adequate time to undertake investigations.
Police want to understand the cleric together with his team and the manner in which they undertake their religious activities.
Mwangi told Mbita principal magistrate Nicodemus Moseti that Chenge was practising religious activities with questionable doctrines.
He argued that setting clerics free will be dangerous as they can influence more people through his teachings.
The prosecution added that the case has public interest.
“My honour, I appeal to this honourable court to grant the police 30 days to detain the suspects to give detectives enough time to carry out investigations,” Mwangi asked.
Issues of Chenge and his group became public last week after their video clips circulated on social media where they insisted to meet and share with President Ruto a prophecy he had been given by God.
Chenge warned that something unfortunate is likely to happen and affect Kenya should they fail to meet the president.
In the court, Mwangi said a multi-agency team who acted on an intelligence report went to Chenge church and arrested him together with his associates.
During the arrest, the court heard that six individuals were rescued from the church.
According to the prosecution, the people who were being offered prayers at the church had various medical conditions including mental illness.
Chenge is the founder of Jerusalem Mowar church where his followers believe he heals the sick through prayers.
“Most of the people who were in the church for prayers were being denied access to medical care in hospitals,” Mwangi added.
But Chenge's lawyer Victor Nyakwamba opposed the request saying the clergymen have been mishandled in the police cells since they got arrested and any further detention will interfere with their right to worship and association.
Nyakwamba argued that Chenge has never been charged in court with any offence over his religious teachings.
He added that Chenge is a harmless man and has not committed a crime that warrants his arrest.
“The state is fishing for charges against my clients. They should be set free because there is no substantial reason why they should continue being in detention,” Nyakwamba said.
Earlier in the court cells, Chenge and his followers conducted periodic prayers with roaring sounds as they spoke in tongues. This attracted residents and thronged the court compound.
Nyakwamba told the court not to allow the state to criminalise worship as done by his clients.
“The group is exercising their religious freedom in the manner that they deem fit and no one should interfere with them,” Nyakwamba said.
Moseti said he will make a ruling on 30 days of detention on Monday.
He directed that the respondents be detained at Mbita police station awaiting the outcome of the ruling.