Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has directed the NGOs Coordination Board to suspend any actions against two organisations pending investigations.
The two organisations are Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG).
Dr Matiang’i also directed Interior Principal Secretary to “immediately form an inclusive and representative committee to work with the board to review the compliance status of the two organisations”.
In a letter to NGOs Coordinating Board Executive Director Fazul Mohamed, the CS said he had reviewed his correspondence with the NGOs.
“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,” Mr Matiang’i said in a letter sent early Wednesday.
He said the engagements would include the opportunity for the organisations and any stakeholders concerned to engage with the NGOs Coordinating Board and effectively address any outstanding non-compliance issues that may lead to deregistration.
The letter was sent as the Kenya Revenue Authority, (KRA) officials raided the AfriCOG offices in Lavington. The officials were however denied entry after it was suspected that the court order they had produced was illegal.
AfriCOG lawyer Harun Ndubi alleged that the officials who were accompanied by police officers had a fake or carelessly done affidavit.
The NGOs Coordination Board deregistered the KHRC on August 14 and circulated a notification letter the commission says it has only read on social and mainstream media.
On Tuesday, a day later, Mr Mohamed wrote to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to shut down AfriCOG and arrest the directors for allegedly operating illegally.
Mr Mohamed, in the letter addressed to the Director of Criminal Investigations, Ndegwa Muhoro, alleged that AfriCOG “is not registered under the NGOs Coordination Act 1990 as required by law.”
“AfriCOG is and continues to operate as a charitable organisation in direct contravention of Section 22 which according to the Act is an offense punishable by law,” NGO Coordination Board Executive Director, Fazul Mohamed said in the letter.
He quoted Section 25 and Regulation 75 of the Act and the attendant Regulation, which requires all organisations engaging in charitable activities to rescind their various registrations and obtain registration.
Mr Mohamed further instructed all the directors of AfriCOG to cease all operations with immediate effect until the organisation acquires a certificate of registration.
High Court judge Joseph Onguto had on April 29 2016 declared a similar attempt to deregister the KHRC, as unconstitutional.
Justice Onguto faulted the NGOs Coordination Board of wrongfully deregistering the commission as well as intimidating an investigation against it.
He also found that the failure by the NGO Coordination Board to either give notice or a hearing to KHRC before arriving at a decision to cancel its registration was a violation of its constitutional rights.
Initially, the NGOs Coordination Board was under the Ministry of Devolution. But President Uhuru Kenyatta in a directive dated October 28, moved it to the Ministry of Interior.