10 July 2007

Uganda: Police to Produce Detailed Report On Fake Pastors

Kampala — The Government has asked the Police for comprehensive reports on pastors in Kampala allegedly involved in fraudulent activities.

Following recent reports of pastors' fraudulent behaviour, ethics minister James Nsaba Buturo told journalists yesterday that the Government would not hesitate to deregister any fraudulent church.

Sources said the investigation would involve pastors in other parts of the country.

The country was recently rocked by reports of pastors extorting money from their flock in exchange for miracles and healing. The Police questioned one of the pastors, Obiri Yeboah Korji, over alleged importation of electric gadgets to dupe his followers that it was spiritual power. Another pastor was accused of taking a woman's car in exchange for prayers to heal her of HIV/Aids.

"For the Ghanaian pastor (Yeboah), we are waiting for the Police to give us a full report then we can decide the course of action. If a pastor commits a crime, the Police should move in quickly without any favour. On the lady's car, we have also asked the Police for a report because it is a very serious matter," he said.

Buturo said the government would consult all stakeholders to come up with a policy on religion.

"Issues of coercion should be dealt with. If you have committed a crime, you shouldn't be exempted because you are a religious leader...People should be allowed to know what is going on in church."

Buturo, however, said some journalists were writing about things they do not understand. He warned that some unconfirmed reports were being fuelled by people who want to see the church collapse.

Obiri Yeboah's lawyer, Augustus Ssewankambo, said yesterday the electric gadget is a toy for his client's 17-year-old daughter. He said the girl, who is currently in Uganda on a visit, forgot the toy in the UK and her grandmother sent it. Yeboah was supposed to pick the toy from the airport.

He insisted that the "electric touch" toy is a household item in the UK, but the Police also insist otherwise.

The brain behind the $168 (about sh275,000) gadget is an Israeli, Yigal Mesika, referred to as a 'miracle master'.

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