For the past few days, Ezekiel Odero, the head of the New Life Prayer Centre and Church, has been making headlines following his arrest.
He was arrested over suspected deaths at his church as police widen an investigation following dozens of deaths linked to a cult leader.
Odero was arrested in the coastal town of Malindi following allegations of the deaths that have been occurring at his premises, said Rhoda Onyancha, the government commissioner for the region.
“We have also taken action and closed the prayer centre going forward,” she told reporters, without elaborating further on the nature of the allegations against Odero or his church.
Police have not connected him to Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, the alleged cult leader under investigation for the deaths of 100 people linked to his church also based in the coastal region.
Odero, dressed in his signature all-white garb and clutching a Bible, was transferred from Malindi to the regional police headquarters in Mombasa for questioning.
He was later arraigned in court.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero biography
Born in the 1970s, Odero grew up in Mbita, Homa Bay County.
He studied at Miwani High School, and he was a staunch Seventh Day Adventist who cast aspersions on those who worshiped on Sundays.
After completion of his studies, the preacher moved to Kisumu where he worked as a fisherman before relocating to Mombasa.
While in Mombasa, Odero met his wife, Pastor Sarah, while working as a mason.
By the time he met Sarah, the preacher was looking for people to partner with to start a church in the coastal city.
Odero happened to share his vision with Sarah who was in for the idea and joined him in search of partners for purposes of setting up a church.
The couple also set up a church in Mavueni.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero church
Odero runs New Life Prayer Centre and Church in Mavueni, Kilifi County.
He set up a sub-city that hosts a couple of facilities, including an international school, hospital, banking outlets and church among others.
He did not attend any theological school but spent years as an understudy and keyboard player at the church of renowned televangelist Pius Muiru in the coastal city of Mombasa.
The establishment sits on an 8-acre tract at the heart of Mavueni.
The entrance of the church is about a kilometre from its actual location. Along the 1 km tarmacked four-way private road are poles on which flags from different countries have been hoisted.
At the main gate, there is a barrier where all visitors step out of their vehicles for thorough security checkups.
The church’s compound features a three-storey section that acts as an accommodation and resort for guests. A white building with a red roof near the resort would serve the church’s officials.
The compound is vast, with ample parking to accommodate visitors arriving in their numbers while boarding buses and personal vehicles. Other amenities under construction at the compound are a rehabilitation centre, a helipad and cottages.
As part of his empire, the pastor has a YouTube channel that has close to 450,000 subscribers.
During one of his sermons, Odero showcased hundreds of goats that he claimed were brought as a thanksgiving token by some of his followers.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero house
Odero owns a palatial multi-million mansion located a fee kilometers from his church in Mavueni, within Kilifi County.
The mansion boasts two floors and a number of rooms.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero car
During his arrest, Odero arrived at the police station for grilling, driving in a white Lexus LX570. According to a local car dealing company, a 2016 model of the car costs upwards of Ksh 17 million.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero net worth
Odero, a fisherman turned preacher has had a rising profile over the last few years with Google placing his net worth at over Ksh 1 billion.
Though born into poverty, the televangelist has grown his wealth, building a mega-church in Kilifi from ground-up, and several other businesses.
Pastor Ezekiel Odero age
Having been born in the 1970s, Odero is in his 40s or 50s.