In Summary
  • Engagements would include the opportunity for the organisations and any stakeholders concerned to engage board.
  • Mr Mohamed further instructed all the directors of AfriCOG to cease all operations with immediate effect.

The government has bowed to local and international pressure to suspend a clampdown on organisations perceived to be opposition-leaning.

On Wednesday, Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i overruled the NGOs Coordination Board  and asked its executive director, Fazul Mahamed, to go slow on investigations on the reported non-tax compliance of Kenya Human Rights Commission and Africa Centre for Open Governance, which were ordered shut early this week pending a 90-day investigation.

In a letter to the board, Dr Matiang’i also directed his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho to form a committee that will work with the board to review the tax status of the two organisations.

The committee, whose first meeting is on Friday, will be chaired by Interior Ministry Principal Administrative Secretary Joseph Irungu.

Principal Secretaries Kamau Thugge (Treasury), Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs), KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini and Solicitor-General are members.

Others are Mr Mahamed, Director of Immigration Services Gordon Kihalang’wa, Africog executive director Gladwell Otieno, her KHRC counterpart George Kegoro and the NGO Council chief executive.

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE

The minister said the review of the status of the organisations must ensure they meet the regulatory and compliance needs to avert distraction of their activities.

“While the correspondence contains weighty legal non-compliance and regulatory issues on the said organisations, my view is that before conclusive and final action such as deregistration, comprehensive and exhaustive engagements have to happen,” Dr Matiang’i said in the letter to Mr Mahamed.

This came as the civil society and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights demanded that Mr Fazul’s office be abolished “since it is illegal”.

KHRC chairman Makau Mutua demanded that the NGO watchdog’s decision to shut the lobbies be quashed.

“Dr Matiangi’s order is insufficient. Orders to deregister or ban KHRC and Africog must be vacated, not just suspended,” Prof Mutua said from New York.

And even with Dr Matiangi’s intervention, KRA officials and police officers were blocked from raiding Africog’s offices in Lavington, Nairobi.

Mr Harun Ndubi, the lawyer representing the group, said the search warrant presented by the team was defective.

AFRICOG

“That affidavit signed by a chief inspector Ombati has no heading, so we don’t know if it is an order related to an application made or something else. It also does not suggest that it is an order against Africog or Ms Otieno,” Mr Ndubi said.

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