NGOs targetted hours to petition deadline

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Executive Director George Kegoro

A fierce battle has exploded between three Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and their prefect, the NGOs Co-ordination Board, hours to the deadline for filing of possible presidential petitions at the Supreme Court.

Three civil society organisations -- Inuka Kenya, Katiba Institute and Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) -- have been directed to report to the Fazul Mohammed-led board tomorrow to respond to a series of allegations leveled against them.

Presidential petition

In three separate sets of communications, the board, through its Enforcement and Compliance Department, emailed the summonses to the three civil society organisations and directed them to appear before it without fail.

It had been rumoured that the three civil society organisations had been working with Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu observer group to prepare a presidential petition to challenge the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But this allegation was officially denied by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Executive Director George Kegoro. Kegoro said he had no knowledge of Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu relations with the NGOs, neither was he aware that any of them was preparing to go to Supreme Court.

“We have been expecting this attack because we were told they (board) are preparing. It is thus not a surprise. It is the fourth attack in the space of two years with exactly the same allegations.

“The regulator speaks to us through the media. We, who are supposed to be under investigation, are never addressed directly. Even now I am hearing this from you. As for the petition, I don’t know whether anyone is preparing to go to court or not,” he said

Muhuri boss Khelef Khalifa has been a notable litigant during this year’s presidential election process. Khalifa, Maina Kiai and Tirop Kitur were behind the case that finally held that presidential election results announced at the constituency level were final. He was also a litigant in that last minute bid to stop the October 26 repeat presidential election that collapsed after the Supreme Court suffered a quorum hitch.

Inuka Kenya has been accused of operating without proper registration and employing foreigners without acquiring requisite immigration documentation.

“The board has noted with concern that your organisation is engaging in activities that fall within the mandate of the NGOs Act, yet you remain unregistered under the said Act. The board would therefore like you to confirm and clarify your legal status in the country.

“Further, it has come to our attention that there are foreigners working within your organisation without valid work permits, which is an offence under both the Immigration law and the NGOs Act.

Money laundering

“You are therefore summoned to come to the offices of the NGOs Co-ordination Board on Monday at exactly 11.00am for a meeting that will also be attended by officials from Immigration,” reads part of an email sent to Inuka Kenya by the board’s legal manager Lindon Nicolas.

Khalifa has also been directed to answer to allegations of possible money laundering activities. The board said concerns had been raised by the Central Bank of Kenya and the Financial Reporting Centre in regard to bank accounts operated by Muhuri.

“Reference is made to your financial returns for the past two years and further to the concerns raised by CBK and FRC on the status of your organisation’s finances, it would seem that your organisation has not been filing the true reflection of your finances which therefore raises doubts as to what other activities you are involved in.

“Further to this, you must be well aware that furnishing the government with false information constitutes a penal offence punishable under the penal code,” reads part of the summons sent to the organisation.

Katiba Institute, headed by renowned constitutional expert Yash Pal Ghai, has also been asked to appear before the board tomorrow to respond to allegations of allegedly being involved in activities that border on money laundering.

“Under the Money Laundering Act, the board is obligated to report such cases to the Financial Reporting. We have further noted that you have foreigners in your service without valid work permits. You are therefore summoned to come to the NGOs Board’s offices with any documentation that can support your case. The meeting that will be held on Monday 12.00pm will include officers from the Immigration, FRC and the board,” reads the letter to Katiba Institute.

Contacted for a comment, Katiba Institute boss Yash Ghai said the email they received from the NGO board did not indicate who had sent it. The other two civil society organisations did not respond to requests for clarification sent to them on email by the Sunday Standard.