- Attempts to access the church’s files have been futile, and the registrar of societies has threatened to take ‘steps’ if they fail to file returns within the stipulated time.
- They will be heading to the High Court on Monday to sue the registrar over the matter.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero of New Life Prayer Centre and Church has raised concern over the inability to trace his file from the Office of the Registrar of Societies.
Odero is now contemplating moving to the High Court to sue the Registrar of Societies for not availing the file of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church.
Through his lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Danstan Omari, Odero alleged that the Office of the Registrar of Societies is now being used by the state to frustrate Pastor Ezekiel.
The duo said that the state has been relentless in its efforts to get Pastor Ezekiel to a ‘particular corner.’
Ombeta said just after securing Pastor Ezekiel’s release from police custody on bail terms, and having his church opened and the bank accounts unfrozen, the registrar of societies has continued to threaten them with closure notices.
“The registrar of societies has come up and wants to deregister the church. One of the conditions that they gave us is that we must be able to file returns,” said Ombeta.
He said prior to the notification from the Registrar of Societies, one of their advocates had been trying to file returns, but the file for the New Life Prayer Centre and Church was missing from the office of the Registrar of Societies.
He said that attempts to access the church’s files have been futile, and the registrar of societies has threatened to take ‘steps’ if they fail to file returns within the stipulated time.
“We expected that a document that is with the Registrar must be available, at least if not the physical file, then the record must be there online. But then, we are being told the file is neither with the Attorney General nor the registrar’s office, we are not sure exactly where this file is,” said Ombeta.
“This begs the question; is this being done intentionally? Are we not getting the file intentionally? And we believe that is the position.”
He said that they will be heading to the High Court on Monday to sue the registrar over the matter.
Ombeta alleged that it is a plot by the state to hide the file to allow for the notice period to elapse, adding that it is the same file they will use to de-register the church.
He said that the current tribulation their client is facing is a clear demonstration that the government has declared war against Christianity in the country.
He reiterated that they are not going to relent.
“We are fighting people who can be able to make files disappear, but it’s about time somebody takes really strong steps against them, trust me we will be suing. We don’t know who we are fighting, but we shall continue fighting,” he said.
Lawyer Omari said that Pastor Ezekiel registered the church in 2012 and has been operating without any issues since then.
He said that the government and the registrar of societies were fully aware of its operations for all those years, but it was until April that the government started coming after the church.
The church, he said, has millions of worshippers spread worldwide.
“When he (Ezekiel) held prayers last year in Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi attracting tens of thousands of worshipers, I think that is where people began to have envy and hatred and started coming after Pastor Ezekiel. Since then he has been pushed a lot,” said Omari.
He said that it began with him getting arrested on allegations that he is a murderer, rapist and terrorist.
The government asked for 30 days to detain him, but the court gave them seven days.
Omari said that it did not end there as his church was closed without notice or court order, but they rushed to court and the church was reopened.
“They then came for the church bank accounts freezing them all, but we fought in court, and they were re-opened,” he said.
He added, “When we thought all these were over, the registrar of societies appeared before parliament and said that the church had failed to file its returns since 2012 and that they had issued a 30-day notice or the church be closed”.
He added that notice was however not issued to the pastor nor his congregants.
He said that they wrote to the Attorney General and the registrar of societies on Thursday to give them the notice and that they want to file returns, but they have been informed the file cannot be seen.
Omari accused the government of using another tactic to force the closure of the church after they successfully petitioned for the initial closure of the church.
“We shall be suing the registrar of societies on Monday because we feel that the office is now being used to attack our client,” he said.
He added, “KRA said we had complied, but the registrar is now being used to haunt Ezekiel”.
According to Omari, the law stipulates that if the church will be closed, properties belonging to the church will be forfeited to the government.
The properties in question, he said, do not belong to Pastor Ezekiel, but to the church and its worshipers.
“Even during times, the country was dealing with terror threats, no religion was targeted and tormented like what it is now with Ezekiel. This shows that there is an intentional plan to derail Christianity,” he said.