• Tuesday, 25 June 2024
President Ruto targets errant religious organizations and churches

President Ruto targets errant religious organizations and churches

A task force to evaluate laws governing religious organizations and a commission to look into the Shakahola killings have both been established by President William Ruto.


Mutava Musyimi, a former secretary general of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), was chosen by Dr. Ruto to lead the 14-member task team for a period of six months.

To stop religious fanaticism, the panel is supposed to suggest changes to the law and government.


At the same time, President Ruto established the commission to investigate the Shakahola massacre under the direction of Court of Appeal Judge Jessie Lessit.

According to Mr. Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the founder of the Good News International Church, at least 110 persons are thought to have perished from starvation or were murdered.

The task team established by Rev. Musyimi arrives at a time when there is a stir and calls for clerical responsibility.

Many people also want those who use religion to promote extremism, cults, and other crimes to face harsh punishment.

In an effort to educate Kenyans about the risks of religious extremism, President Ruto gave the team the duty of developing ideas for civic education and curriculum changes in a gazette notice yesterday.

The group is also tasked with developing strategies for detecting and exiting such organizations.


In order for religious organizations and their leaders to be permitted to register and conduct business in their communities, the task group will develop ideas on standards and minimal certification requirements.

The council, which includes representatives from many denominations, will also influence the criteria used to certify religious organizations.


Before submitting its report to the President, Rev. Musyimi's team will consult with the general public.

The final report will be used to direct how religious institutions are run.


Bishop Eli Rop of Sayare TV and Radio, Bishop Mark Kariuki of Deliverance Church Worldwide, Archbishop Maurice Muhatia of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nakuru, and family lawyer Judy Thongori are additional task force members.

Dr. Faridun Abdalla, Mr. Musili Wambua, Mr. Charles Kanjama, Mr. Joseph Wabwire, Ms. Mary Awour Kitegi, Ms. Leah Kasera, Ms. Nancy Murega, Mr. Wilson Wanyanga, Mr. Martin Ndiwa Talian, and Ms. Maria Goretti Nyariki are also members of the team.



Dr. Ruto expressed his belief that the examination of the current laws and rules governing religion will aid in combating tame rogues who prey on weak people and groups.

According to the gazette notice, "the task force should develop recommendations on the legal, institutional, and governance changes necessary to prevent religious extremist organizations, sects, cults, and other similar outfits from engaging in or promoting actions harmful to individual health and safety, the public interest, or national values."

The task force will also look for holes in the institutional, institutional governance, and legal frameworks that allow cults and other extreme groups to function.

It will develop ideas for a system by which the public can report such incidents.


According to the statement, the task force "should develop recommendations on a framework for regulation, annual reporting, compliance, monitoring, and enforcement applicable to religious organizations, including public declarations of governance structures, programs, charitable activities, commercial ventures, and general sources of finances.


The panel is also anticipated to make recommendations regarding how to deal with religious leaders involved in cults, radicalism, or the occult.

The acts of Mr. Mackenzie, who is anticipated to be charged with terrorism and other offenses, led to the creation of the task force and the panel of inquiry.


He is accused by the authorities of advising followers to starve themselves to death "in an effort to meet Jesus Christ."

Yesterday, Mr. Mackenzie appeared in a Shanzu court with his wife and 16 supporters.

The commission of inquiry will investigate allegations of torture, killing, inhumane treatment, and degrading treatment of Mr. Mackenzie's associates and members of the Good News International Church situated in Kilifi.

Justice (Rtd) Mary Kasango, Dr. Frank Njenga, Mr. Eric Gumbo, Bishop Catherine Mutua, Dr. Jonathan Lodompui, Mr. Wanyama Musiambu, and Mr. Albert Musasia are other members of the commission.

Mr. Kipchumba Oliver Karori and Ms. Rachel Maina will serve as the commission's joint secretary, while Mr. Kioko Kilukumi will serve as the main attorney.


Mr. Bahati Mwamuye and Ms. Vivian Nyambeki will be Mr. Kilumumi's assistants.

In accordance with the notification published in the gazette, the commission of inquiry has six months to compile a report and make recommendations to President Ruto.

The commission must also determine the circumstances of the killings, torture, and other cruel and degrading treatment.

It will also try to determine whether the Shakahola tragedy was caused by any legal, institutional, administrative, security, or intelligence failures.


The Justice Lessit-led commission of inquiry is anticipated to identify those individuals and institutions that should be held accountable for the Shakahola massacre and suggest appropriate legal action.

The team's reports can also result in formal defendants.

The National Police Service and Directorate of Criminal Investigations chiefs who were on duty in Kilifi at the time of the Shakahola killings have already been reassigned, according to Interior Ministry Secretary Kithure Kindiki.

In the notification, it is stated that "the committee of inquiry shall recommend legal, administrative, or other kinds of accountability action against any public person whose actions or omissions are proved to have wilfully or negligently contributed to the Shakahola tragedy."


The panel will investigate the causes of the growth of the Good News International Church and associated occult organizations, religious extremist institutions, and other formations that support harmful religious-based activities.

It will suggest legislative, administrative, institutional, and regulatory changes aimed at averting fatalities or rights and welfare abuses by religious institutions and leaders.

Anybody with pertinent information may submit an oral or written statement to the commission expressing their opinions.

It will call the parties in question to give sworn testimony.

Whilst public meetings are anticipated, private hearings may be held if required.

In Kenya, presidential inquiries into cultism are not new.

President Daniel Moi assigned a group led by Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima to carry out comparable work in 1994.


According to its 1999 report, cultism was becoming a bigger problem in both society and schools.

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