The African Independent Pentecostal Church of Africa (AIPCA) is embroiled in fierce leadership wrangles following flawed elections that saw Bishop Julius Njoroge illegally chosen as the Archbishop elect.
Names of dead officials and those who have already resigned were also captured in the election list without updated replacement of their successors. Further, thirty six bishops, chairmen and chairladies boycotted the controversial election including the outgoing Archbishop Amos Kabuthu. Kabuthu confirmed the election was flawed and called for fresh process.
“Delegates who were supposed to elect a new Archbishop were barred from the elections. … The masterminds of the elections are neither church members nor leaders, including one Paul Watoro Gichu, who was excommunicated by the church on May 12, 2014,” he said.
“Most Bishops and Dioceses chairmen were disqualified from participating in the elections, which violates our constitution. I cannot leave the church to a person elected illegitimately and one not accepted by the congregation.” Kabuthu criticised the Registrar of Societies for overseeing an unlawful election.
He said the registrar ignored the list of eligible participants. It also emerged ex-communicated members took part in the election against the church constitution.
A petition detailing blow by blow account of events sent to the Registrar General, Office of the Attorney General says a 2012 electoral register was used and three bishops who were not qualified to take part in the process were enlisted as candidates for the Archbishop post.
“The electoral register which was used was backdated to 2012meaning changes that have happened since then were never captured. For example, the National Treasurer the late Timothy Gitonga Gachoya replacement was not captured to reflect the current holder Mrs Ann Wanjiru Kahura. Bishop Bairu who was the in charge Imenti North diocese was not replaced and chairlady of Embu also passed on and the register used did not reflect the current chairlady.” The petition dated January 10, 2017 reads in part.
Bertha Nyambura , wife to former Archbishop the late Samson Mwangi Gaitho who served as the National Chairlady in 2013and tendered her resignation in May 2014 and ex-communicated member Paul Watoro Gichu participated in the disputed elections. However, current office bearers were not incorporated in the process.
Nyambura and Gichu are the two lead masterminds behind the schemes to irregularly take control of the church and form a splinter group to takeover the control of the vast multimillion church empire. Delegates from Nairobi Archdiocese, Gatanga Diocese, Maragua Diocese, Mukaro South Diocese, Coast Diocese, Kirinyaga Diocese, Embu Diocese, and Eldoret Diocese were never represented in the elections.
According to a confession registered at the Registrar General Bernice Gachegu’s office, the church Secretary General said the candidates list was not availed to all dioceses and ineligible contestants were listed. The leaders claim some of the new leaders were rigged in and are now demanding a fresh election.
The petitioners said the church procedures, doctrines and laws were ignored and violated. Normally, election on an Archbishop time-frame is 135 days with 90 days being for praying for peaceful process and primate and 90 days for preparation on the enthronement which is a national event with all members from the republic participates.
The church is further marred in financial mismanagement amounting to tens of millions collected from the various dioceses and returns were not remitted to Registrar general’s office and fight for the control of the multimillion empire. The Secretary General Stanley Mburu is accused of abdicating his duties and delegating them to the ex-communicated former chairman Gichu. Gichu was ex-communicated from the church in 2014 for having participated in illegal and irregular ordinations in Nairobi and Mukaro Diocese against the church rules and doctrines.
“The central board has found you guilty of colluding with Bishop Julius Kamwaro as he illegally ordained clergy in Nairobi and Nyeri and thus it ex-communicated you.”
An ex-communication notice against Gichu reference number Ref:CB/AIPCA/05/2014. Gichu attends Bahati AIPCA church under police escort. The notice was signed by the secretary general Stanley Mwangi and national chairman Samuel Kimani. They are accused of collecting money from dioceses from year 2013 to 2016 in pretense of doing returns to the Registrar General office.
Mwangi is further accused of failing to issue a list of the bishops qualified to vie for Archbishop position to all dioceses. In his retirement speech in January 22, 2017, Archbishop Kabuthu called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta and the office of the Registrar General broker a truce.
One of the compromise agreements is to merge and harmonise the 2012 and 2017 electoral register. “I wish to hand over the mantle from today, but I request with humility, the office of the president and the Registrar General to give guidance while waiting for the elections from parishes, dioceses and national level.
“I would further request if possible I hand over to the able dioceses chairmen to handle the dioceses and if permitted, I can appoint an acting Archbishop for a period of 30 days as we await elections. ” Kabuthu said. Kabuthu took over the church leadership in 2013 in a peaceful transition witnessed by former President Mwai Kibaki and President Kenyatta.
“We would like to bring to your attention about the skewed AIPCA Archbishop elections held on January 9, 2017 at AIPCA Church headquarters under the supervision of the Registrar of Societies. The said elections were marred with a lot of anomalies.” The petition further says.