The Registrar of Societies in Kenya has deregistered five churches among them Good News International Church led by the suspected cult leader Paul Mackenzie, New Life Prayer Center and Church headed by Pastor Ezekiel Odero, Helicopter of Christ Church led by Thomas Wahome, Theophilus Church Nairobi and Kings Outreach Church.
The Societies Act makes provision for the registration and control of societies and repeal of the Act. An exempted society, or a society that has not been registered is considered to be an unlawful society and any person who manages such shall be guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding ten thousand shillings or both.
Any person who knows a society that is unlawful and attends the meeting of that society or allows the meeting of that society to be held in a house, building or place belonging to them, shall be guilty of the offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding five thousand Kenyan shillings or both.
Deregistration of societies occurs when the registrar of societies has a reasonable cause to believe that society is being used for unlawful purposes and is incompatible with peace, welfare and the good order of the Country.
The registrar of societies can exempt a society in a situation where the activities of the society are repugnant to the constitution or inconsistent with any other law. If a society contravenes any provisions of the Societies Act or has failed to comply within the time allowed for compliance, it can also be deregistered.
In spite of the registrar of societies issuing notice on 18 August 2023 on the deregistration of churches among them Pastor Odero’s New Life Church, Pastor Odero went ahead and held a church service that was flocked by congregants who condemned the government’s actions of deregistering the church.
Previously, pastor Odero had been arrested in May 2023 for a raft of charges including fraud, money laundering, murder, assisting suicide, kidnapping, and radicalisation and child abuse. Odero was later released on a KShs. 3 million bail with a surety of the same amount, after the state failed to prove how his freedom would interfere with the collection of evidence including the DNA samples of the victims of the Shakahola Massacre.
The millionaire tele evangelist Ezekiel Odero has moved to court to petition against the deregistration of his New Life Prayer Center and Church. The High Court has lifted the decision to deregister Odero’s church pending the determination of Odero’s case, which is still under investigation.