CITY GIRL: We must arrest and prosecute all church cons - Daily Nation

We must arrest and prosecute all church cons

Friday March 8 2019

 

By NJOKI CHEGE
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It is a story most bizarre.

Billionaire lawyer Jayne Muthoni abandons her work and family to dedicate her life to the church.

In an atrocious turn of events, Muthoni hands over her estate to her beloved pastor, the “man of God”, consequently financing his lavish lifestyle. How a single woman can bankroll an entire ministry and facilitate the life of a modern-day alleged prophet for years should be a matter of national interest.

'WOMAN EATER'

It doesn’t stop there. Muthoni’s family is now concerned not just about the Sh800 million the “man of God” has gobbled up so far, but also about the suspicious sale of her property, worth Sh1.5 billion.

God is good, especially if you are a “prophet” with followers brainwashed enough to provide your upkeep. In Kenya, you can live in Runda, maintain a bevy of well-paid staff, drive in a convoy of high-end cars (with police chase cars, no less) and conduct your business in plush offices off Rhapta Road, if you know the right flock to fleece. Just ask Mightiest Prophet David Owuor.

Turns out that Prophet Owuor is really just another “woman eater”, having built his luxury lifestyle on the blood, tears and sweat of a woman who worked hard for her money.

My reaction? Disappointed but not surprised. I would have imagined that for all his tips and tricks, the mighty prophet would have at least spared some wealth-generating tricks for himself.

Looks like he is, after all, a hustler like the rest of us, depending on the benevolence and induced goodwill of his unsuspecting flock.

CRIMINAL PASTORS

A separate but similar story is unfolding in the courts. Bishop “Dr” David Kariuki Ngare, he of the Gakuyo Real Estate fame, is also of the same ilk. According court papers, Kariuki misappropriated Sh1 billion belonging to the 78,000 members of Ekeza Sacco. The good bishop used the Sh1 billion to, among many other things, purchase a lavish home in Nyari estate that cost him a cool Sh200 million. It is reported that he also distributed loans like sacrament to his cronies and friends, leading to the fall of Ekeza Sacco.

I think I speak for many Kenyans when I say this: churches must now be regulated. We cannot sit back and watch as powerful “prophets” with political connections continue to rob, lie to and manipulate innocent Kenyans who are desperately seeking spiritual nourishment.

What we are seeing here with Prophet Owuor and Bishop Kariuki is merely the tip of the iceberg. This, my fellow Kenyans, is now a matter of national interest. It is fast hurtling into a national disaster. This has long ceased to be a spiritual issue, but a criminal matter that urgently demands the attention of the government and relevant agencies.

In fact, I daresay that in our list of major problems as a county, after corruption and poor healthcare, the misuse of religion by these criminal pastors is the third biggest problem we are facing as a country.

FLEECING FLOCK

Muthoni is not alone. Hers is not the only family that has had enough of a bully of a pastor who couldn’t care less about her. There are millions of Kenyans who have gone down the same path as Muthoni. There are many families who have been abandoned by their loved ones for the sake of “prophets” like Owuor. Worse, there are thousands of families — peasant families — that have lost their life savings and been left destitute as Kariuki rests easy in one of his palatial homes.

We cannot let this continue and we must pressure this government into jailing some con pastors to act as a lesson to other false pastors fleecing the flock.

The good news is, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is following up on Kariuki’s matter. On Thursday afternoon, he reportedly surrendered to the DCI. Let’s hope they will also investigate Owuor. I hope to God the Judiciary nails these charlatans; we hope to see some convictions for the sake of justice to the many families whose lives have been destroyed by these con men.

Furthermore, I would like to suggest that, in the spirit of according this matter the seriousness it deserves, the DCI set up a separate unit to deal with church fraud. In fact, let’s call it the Church Fraud Unit, where Kenyans could anonymously report the mismanagement of funds in churches, especially where powerful men like Owuor are involved.

Let the likes of Owuor and Gakuyo be the last of such that we will ever see in this country. Over to you, GoK.

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