David Kariuki Ngari popularly known as Bishop Gakuyo is a Kenyan businessman, politician and evangelist who is a bishop at the Calvary Chosen Temple Church in Thika, Kiambu County.
The Ekeza Sacco founder has over the recent years been at the center of controversies involving politics, religion and business.
During the term of former Kiambu County Governor, William Kabogo, Gakuyo was one of his harshest critics and the two reportedly could not see eye to eye.
He has often defended his involvement in politics, terming it, “a calling from God”.
Background & Education
The 52-year-old cleric was born in Munyu Village in Thika, Kiambu County.
He attended Munyu Primary School and sat for his Certificate of Primary Education in 1983.
Details of his education remain scanty and in 2017, he was on the spot for allegedly forging a college degree to enable him contest the Kiambu Gubernatorial seat.
According to a report by NTV, Gakuyo submitted a primary school certificate to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), indicating that he sat for his CPE in 1983.
The certificate had numerous glaring mistakes including spelling errors and the index number did not match the school indicated. His name was not among the list of 76 candidates that sat for the exam that year.
It further emerged that Gakuyo only collected his primary school leaving certificate in 2004, 21 years after he had left Munyu Primary School.
Despite the glaring errors and no proof of secondary school education, he was allowed to pursue a certificate in County Governance at JKUAT’s Westlands Campus.
He was, however, discontinued by the registrar at JKUAT’s Westlands Campus after he failed to provide any proof of attaining secondary school education.
Gakuyo is a married man and is a father of three.
Gakuyo is a wealthy businessman and is known to lead a flamboyant life. He has often been criticised by members of the public for using religion as a ploy to accumulate wealth through offerings and tithes.
Gakuyo was first famed for his multi-million company, Gakuyo Real Estate. A firm that deals with the purchase and sale of plots, and the development and sale of properties, including residence and commercial buildings.
He is also the founder of a financial entity, Ekeza Sacco, that grew to a balance sheet in excess of Ksh3 billion before it went under for massive irregularities.
The shepherd is also the owner of the multi-million Hotel Lillies located in Juja, Kiambu County.
The hotel sits along Sunrise Street, a few metres from the Thika Superhighway, making it an eatery of preference on the basis of its proximity. It is also a short distance from JKUAT.
Gakuyo is also reported to own numerous other assets including Salama House in Nairobi, Swift Breeze Hardware on Garissa Road, a quarry in Murang’a and 250 acres of land in Murang’a County.
Houses & Cars
He reportedly owns a multi-million shillings home in the high-end Nyari Estate near the United Nations offices in Gigiri, Nairobi County.
He also boasts of a fleet of high-end cars, among them Range Rovers.
The man of cloth has had an active hand in politics. In 2013 he campaigned and contested the Kiambu County Gubernatorial seat but lost to former Governor Kabogo.
He grew to become one of Kabogo’s harshest critics, and in the run up to the 2017 general elections, Gakuyo teamed up with former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, and fiercely campaigned for him in a bid to dethrone Kabogo.
The clergy man has often defended his involvement in politic, alleging that it is, “a call from God”.
On November 14, 2020, People Daily reported that Gakuyo had made clear his plans to ditch Jubilee Party and join opposition party, ODM.
“We shall go all out to strengthen the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila as we popularize ODM in this region and I am ready to hold any position in the party. I am also going to seek its ticket for a political seat that I am yet to declare,” he said.
“History has shown us that no one has ever become President without first being in the opposition and a good example is that of retired President Mwai Kibaki and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. Ruto should be ready to join the opposition and wait for his turn.
“Raila has been in the opposition for the longest time and was the one who declared ‘Kibaki Tosha’ and now the time has come for us to pay his debt. His star is now shining and I have a vision that he will be the next President,” he added.
In February 2018, Gakuyo Real Estate and Ekeza Sacco were on the spot for allegedly defrauding members of Ksh2.5 billion.
The companies were accused of mismanaging Kh2.5 billion members’ savings at Ekeza Sacco and swindling clients through fake property investments using his real estate company.
In January 2019, Gakuyo published a notice in the local dailies with an intention to sell his assets including the Hotel Lillies.
However, the commissioner of co-operatives moved to court in February 2019 and stopped the preacher from selling the hotel, stating that the sale could jeopardise the inquiry into the sacco which had deposits in excess of Ksh2.56 billion.
Gakuyo announced a five-phase refund plan in May 2019, starting with members who had the least savings.