NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15 – The NGO Co-ordination Board has written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations urging it to immediately shut down the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and arrest its directors.
The Board’s Executive Director Fazul Mahamed has also advised the Central Bank of Kenya to freeze all its bank accounts since it is operating illegally.
“AfriCOG is not registered under the NGOs Co-ordination Act 1990 as required by law. In fact,” Fazul states, “AfriCOG is and continues to operate as a charitable organisation in direct contravention of Section 22(1) which according to the Act is an offence punishable by law.”
An offence which Fazul submits, attracts the penalty of an 18-month jail term.
AfriCOG which is chaired by John Githongo and whose board members include Maina Kiai and Gladwell Otieno was party to the last presidential petition with Kethi Kilonzo as its legal representative.
Most recently, it filed a case seeking to have the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission compelled to open up the electoral roll for scrutiny.
READ: AfriCOG case to open up voter register for scrutiny set for Tuesday
The action follows the de-registration of another high profile Kenyan non-profit, the Kenya Human Rights Commission on Monday, a day before they were set to file a petition challenging the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
KHRC which shares a board member in Kiai with AfriCOG, therefore described the action as politically motivated.
The action of the putting these not for profits out of business, as it were, follows criticism that Kenya’s civil society has faced great threat under the administration of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
On his visit to Kenya back in July of 2015, then US President Barack Obama stressed the importance of the civil society in societal transformation having himself worked in the sector.
“Despite the hard-earned political progress that I spoke of, those political gains still have to be protected. New laws and restrictions could close off the space where civil society gives individual citizens a voice and holds leaders accountable.
The ability of citizens to organize and advocate for change – that’s the oxygen upon which democracy depends.”