Pastor Ezekiel Odero on Tuesday moved to court seeking to set aside orders issued to freeze his bank accounts pending the ongoing investigations by the government over money laundering claims.
He wants Milimani Magistrate Ben Mark Ekhubi to discharge and unconditionally vacate his orders issued on Monday freezing 28 different bank accounts and seven M-Pesa lines belonging to him.
"The court be pleased to discharge and unconditionally set a side of its orders issued on May 8, 2023 together with any consequential orders thereto," Odero said in court papers.
Through lawyers Sam Nyaberi and Samuel Ogechi, the preacher claims the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) acted mischievously by obtaining the orders yet there is another pending case at the Mombasa Law Court.
Nyaberi argued that it was unconstitutional and illegal for the state to freeze his accounts without giving him a chance to defend himself.
He adds that the action of moving to file the application in Nairobi by the state was by itself calculated to embarrass the proceedings at the High Court in Mombasa and worse still embarrass the court in the handling of the case.
"The most embarrassing of them all is that the state herein did not make full disclosure of the events prior to the filing of the application and did not bother to make any mention of the case that is pending for trial at the High Court at Mombasa," he adds
He says that unless the courts review the freeze orders it will bring him hardships and "catastrophes" to him as he denies allegations by the state that he has links to controversial preacher Paul Mackenzie, who is in custody after more than 100 bodies were retrieved from an expansive farm in Shakahola, where he runs his Good News International Church.
"The orders issued will bring hardships and catastrophic effects on Ezekiel's part if executed and or not discharged and the orders will embarrass the High Court in the just, fair and efficient determination of the issues before it thereby embarrassing all the institutions in due process," says the preacher.
He adds "That is no way have I engaged in and or gotten connected with pastor Mackenzie as alleged and no nexus, links and or connection whatsoever exists between my operations and those of Pastor Mackenzie to warrant the closure of the accounts as purported in the application."
In an affidavit filed in court, Odero says that the freeze orders will affect over 2000 students whom he pays school fees for and feeds.
"The closure of my accounts has an astronomical negative impact on the Church and the Schools operations as the over 2000 student's daily upkeep is going to present a logistical nightmare. That schools are re-opening this week and the students have an imminent risk of missing to start the term out with their colleagues courtesy of the unlawfully obtained orders," he states.
Odero is challenging the court order that barred him and his associates from withdrawing or transferring the money for at least 30 days as police conduct investigations.
The order was served to respective managers at Co-operative Bank, NCBA, Equity, KCB, HFC and Safaricom.
“Whereas it has been proven to this honourable court on oath that for the purpose of investigation into the commission of offences of money laundering contrary to sections 3, 4 and 7 of the Pocamla Act, it is necessary and desirable to issue the following orders,” the court ruled.
Pastor Ezekiel's accounts frozen
The frozen bank accounts are in the name of Kilifi International School, which Odero is setting up with 16 bank accounts at Co-op Bank and seven at NCBA. The other accounts are in Equity, KCB and HFC, each registered in Odero’s name.
M-Pesa accounts linked to seven mobile phone numbers belonging to Odera were also frozen.
While seeking the freezing orders, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) claimed the preacher has been receiving huge transactions, suspected to be proceeds of illicit cash. Police said the funds would be transferred unless stopped by the court pending the completion of investigations.
Police claim that they suspected the money was from victims radicalised and made to sell their properties and surrender the proceeds to the preacher.
The ongoing investigations on Odero were lodged by police days after Mackenzie was arrested and detained and is under investigation over claims of helping people to kill themselves, aiding suicide, murder, abduction, radicalisation, genocide, crimes against humanity, child cruelty, fraud and money laundering.
Magistrate Enkubi has directed the application for Odero seeking to vacate the freezing orders to be heard on May 11, 2023.
At the same time, the preacher has also lodged another case at Mombasa High Court to seek conservatory orders preventing the state from freezing his other 18 bank accounts, closing his church in Mavueni, and suspending his TV station.
This is after Ezekiel’s television station, World Evangelism was suspended indefinitely and his church closed. The petition before Mombasa was heard before Lady Justice Olga Sewe.