16 August 2017

Kenya: Matiangi Halts Action Against NGOs, Orders Compliance Probe

Photo: Nation
Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Education Committee in October. Friend and foe admire his reforms.

Nairobi — Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has ordered suspension of the punitive action initiated by the Non-Governmental Coordination Board against two human rights lobbies, pending a probe into compliance concerns.

Matiangi has written to the Executive Director of the NGO Coordination Board Fazul Mahamed putting off further action against the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) for 90 days.

The suspension, according to a letter seen by Capital FM News, will allow a committee headed by the Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho to look into compliance concerns by the two lobby groups.

"My view is that before conclusive and final action such as deregistration, comprehensive and exhaustive engagement needs to happen," Matiangi says in the letter.

The letter goes on to say: "... this would include an opportunity for the organisations and stakeholders concerned to engage with the NGOs Coordination Board and effectively address any outstanding non-compliance issues that may have led to the deregistration of the two organisations."

Following the crackdown by the NGO Board, police and Kenya Revenue Authority officials on Wednesday launched raid on the Africa Centre for Open Governance offices in Lavington before it was called off after the new directive.

The NGO Coordination Board came into the spotlight on Monday after it deregistered the Makau Mutua-chaired Kenya Human Rights Commission for alleged tax evasion, an act which drew wide condemnation from other Civil Society Organisations.

Mahamed, in a notice to the NGO, stated they owe Sh100 million in statutory taxes and advised the Central Bank of Kenya to freeze their accounts.

Mahamed also accused KHRC of making false declarations on its annual returns making it difficult to ascertain if Sh1.2 billion it received was used for the intended purpose.

"Kenya Human Rights Commission financial statements do not give a true and fair view of their financial position as of October 4, 2016 and subsequently it cannot be ascertained that the Sh1.2 billion received by the organisation during the same period is fully accounted for," Mahamed had said in his letter to CBK.

On Tuesday, the Board also wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to immediately shut down the African Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and arrest its directors for allegedly contravening stipulated laws.

AfriCOG is chaired by John Githongo and board members include Maina Kiai and Gladwell Otieno.

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