By Stella Atemi, Vihiga
Vihiga senator Godfrey Osotsi has told the senate Adhoc committee investigating the situation under which over 300 people lost lives in Shakahola religious cult that poverty is the main reason why innocent Kenyans are being lured into those cult.
The lawmaker said the government needs to come up with a proper scheme to curb the rate of poverty among Kenyans so that they can’t be lured into such cults.
Osotsi was giving his views at the Broad park hotel where locals were meeting the senate ad hoc committee that was investigating the matter.
He said the church has remained an economic activity within Vihiga County where locals are investing and only the poor are victimized.
“We are church lovers and Vihiga is the headquarters of many churches due to the fact that many victims of shakahola were from here,” Osotsi said.
His sentiments were echoed by Governor Wilber Ottichilo and County Secretary Ezekiel Ayiego who said the rate at which they are receiving invites to fundraisings towards churches is alarming.
“In a month you can be invited to over ten Churches for Harambee, either building the church, building the Bishop’s house, Buying Bishop’s car or funding something towards Bishop,” Ayiego said.
The lawmaker said the only way to help Kenyans from being lured to such churches like good news International of Pastor Paul Makenzi government should put mechanisms in place to support them economically.
He told the committee those families that were affected economically are not doing well and thus why their family members were duped into that cult.
On the same note Governor Wilber Ottihilo said Church has been the main reason why the county can’t perform as it spends much time in solving their daily wrangle.
“Chair I can tell you for free these churches are the main problem to live hoods here in the county, if they are not fighting they are in courts,” Ottichilo said.
“The notorious Church here is Pentecostal Assemblies of God with its headquarters in Nyang’ori another Church is Israel Nineve. This one even killed people as they fight over church leadership and we wonder why,” he added.
On the other hand Deputy County Commissioner Florence Sitawa said the reason why churches have been in wrangles is the poor drafting of the constitution.
She said the registrar of civil society groups should be keen on the Church constitution on how they are going to solve their disputes and conduct elections.
“When registration is being done the registrar should focus on the constitution on how disputes and elections are going to be dealt with,” Sitawa said.
They were giving their views that the a dhoc committee was collecting across the country, the committee started from Malindi then Nairobi, Kisumu and they were inVihiga for the same.
The vice Chair Shakila Abdallah said they were only collecting views from the affected areas and vihiga being one of the affected counties they had to tour.
Others were Veronica Maina (nominated), Senator David Wakoli (Bungoma), Abdul Haji (Garissa).
The committee is probing controversial Pastor Paul Makenzi and Good Life International Church role in the deaths of faithful drawn from across the country.
“We have to agree that the hardship in life might push some people to religious extremism, as a country we need to lower the cost of living,” said Stephen Chahasi, a human rights activist based in Vihiga
The 11-member committee is seeking to establish the registration status of religious institutions in the country and identify the mitigation measures in place to regulate them and combat extremism.
Senator Mohammad reiterates that the Senate committee will carry out an audit of the legal and registration framework for religious organizations in the country.
“We seek to know how all this happened and even have a proposal on regulating religious activities and make any other recommendation that will prevent religious organizations from extreme indoctrination of their followers including radicalization, spiritual and financial exploitation,” said Ms Mohammad.