, NAIROBI. Kenya Dec 17 – A Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) official was on Monday put to task to explain how the Muslim for Human Rights (MUHURI) bank accounts were frozen in April 2015 after the organisation was linked to terrorism.
Matu Mugo, an Assistant Director in charge of Funds Supervision at CBK, was required to explain how the organization arrived at a decision to direct banks to freeze accounts of MUHURU and other organisations that had been linked to terrorism.
He told the court that they acted on an letter sent to CBK by the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) that had raised queries against the said organization.
“We received a letter from FRC (Financial Reporting Centre) that had been sent to CBK Deputy Governor. We called for a meeting to deliberate on it and sent a circular to all banks asking them to freeze the accounts,” said Mugo, during cross examination at a Mombasa court, in a case in which MUHURI has sued the government for damages. Mugo was appearing as a witness for the State.
However, MUHURI lead lawyer, James Orengo, said the power to freeze an organisation’s bank accounts lies with a Cabinet Secretary.
Orengo, who is also the Siaya senator, challenged Mugo to provide to the court a communication from a Cabinet Secretary directing CBK to freeze bank accounts.
However, Mugo said they acted on the information from FRC, which is a supervisory board.
Orengo asked the CBK official if they had issued any notice to the affected organisation, he responded by saying ‘no’.
Maina Kiai, who is a board member of MUHURI and was appearing as a witness for the organisation, said he suffered a lot when Muhuri was linked to terrorism.
He said he was then a Special United Nations Rapporteur.
“As a UN Special Rapporteur, I had a global mandate. I met government officials from around the world and tis false information about MUHURI had travelled over the world. People started doubting my character on human rights,” said Kiai.
He said being associated with a terror organisation was in fact the “biggest insult.”
According to Kiai, the banks never gave them sufficient information on why Muhuri accounts had to be frozen.
“There was ambiguity from the banks. No internal reasons were ever explained. However, the coincidence is remarkable because when the case was won, the money started flowing in,” said Kiai.
The matter will be coming next on February 8, 2019.
In this matter, Muhuri has lined up Khelef Khalifa (Muhuri chair), former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Maina Kiai as witnesses.
The State had lined up Inspector General of Police and CBK as witnesses.