May 31, 2023

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Police in Kenya arrested another popular preacher on the Indian Ocean coast as the death toll from a cult in the area rose to 103 on Thursday.

Pastor Ezekiel Odero “is being prosecuted for criminal charges related to mass murder of his followers,” said a statement from Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki.

Odero is being questioned overnight and is expected to appear in court on Friday.

His church has been closed and those found inside were sent out, Coastal Region Coordinator Rhoda Onyancha said.

Odero’s megachurch, the New Life Prayer Center Church, is located in Malindi County, where another pastor, Paul Mackenzie, is under investigation for ordering his followers to fast to death.

Police have dug up bodies at a Mackenzie farm, which he moved to in 2019 after closing his church in Malindi. As part of the move, he reportedly sold his television channel to Odero.

Odero’s television channel is popular in Kenyan households, with people coming from all over the country to attend his church.

His YouTube channel has over 400,000 subscribers and over 70 million views.

Odero’s mega-crusades have been attended by prominent politicians in the past, including Vice President Rigathi Gachagua’s wife, Reverend Dorcas.

Kenya is a largely religious society.