Nairobi — The government has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding the constitutional right of freedom of worship amid investigations on cult activities in Shakahola forest where more than 100 bodies were exhumed.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Sunday dismissed claims that the state is intending to wage a war against religious institutions, clarifying that the prime focus has been turned to ridding the country of rogue clerics advancing extremism and criminal activities.
“Let me make it clear that we are not at war with religion or the church of Christ; there is no conflict between the government and the church. Our only issue is with the few impostors who are hiding behind religion to engage in criminal activities,” he said.
Kindiki reiterated that the government is undeterred by such clamour and will remain focused on hunting those misappropriating religious influence for ulterior motives, citing the Shakahola tragedy as evidence of dogmatic violence and spiritual maltreatment that the state wants to avert.
During a mass organized by the Chaaria Parish in Meru to support children with disabilities, the CS recognized the significant contributions of religious institutions to Kenya’s social development and security management.
However, he warned that the government would not hesitate to eliminate unorthodox teachings and illegal activities disguised under the guise of religious freedom.
“We have heard some individuals alleging that we are fighting the church. We want to make it clear that such claims are baseless. The Constitution of Kenya provides for freedom of worship but killing and such sectarian harm are crimes punishable under our laws.”
According to Kindiki, 112 bodies have been recovered from the forest land, with the exhumation exercise set to resume on Tuesday after it was paused due to bad weather.
He stated that the dragnet will be cast as wide as the deaths stretch, adding that no culprit will evade justice.
Kindiki also took issue with those seeking to politicize such a grave matter and warned of decisive action against anyone who will try to force their way into the area declares a scene of crime owing to the sensitivity of the issue and the intricacies surrounding the search and recovery activities in the forest.
“We have limited civilian access to the area because it is an active operation zone, and we are warning all politicians to keep off unless cleared by security agencies. Next time we won’t be courteous, regardless of your political affiliation.”
On the violent land disputes recently reported in Mount Kenya East, the CS sent a stern warning against those fomenting politics of hate and incitement, adding that it was just a matter of time before those responsible are brought to book.