Police and KRA authorities on Wednesday raided the office of a pro-democracy organisation that had raised questions over preparations for last week’s disputed election.
They raided premises occupied by Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) in Lavington, Nairobi.
“They are outside the gates right now,” executive director Gladwell Otieno told Reuters by phone when the officers arrived in three vans.
A confrontation ensued between the organisation’s lawyers, police and agents from the Kenya Revenue Authority.
Lawyer Haron Ndubi blocked them and questioned the manner in which they stormed the premises
Nbubi said the documents they presented were fake and did not specify their motive.
He added the names of the organisation and its executive director were not on the search warrant presented by the taxman.
“There is nothing wrong with AfriCOG petitioning election results,” the lawyer also said. “Courts are there to listen for redress. President Uhuru Kenyatta has never been comfortable with NGOs because of the perception they took them to The Hague.”
President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner of the August 8 general election but NASA principal Raila Odinga has not conceded defeat and is expected to announce their next move.
Uhuru and William Ruto, who is Deputy President, faced crimes against humanity charges at the ICC over the 2007/8 post-poll violence. At least 1, 300 people were killed and more than 600,000 internally displaced. The cases collapsed in December 2014 for lack of evidence and what prosecutors termed political interference.
Activist Maina Kiai described the raid as unfortunate, saying NGOs Coordination Board boss Fazul Mahamed’s actions show the government is up to no good.
Kiai further noted AfriCOG is not registered as an NGO but as a company limited by guarantee.
“The government has resorted to unwarranted moves against NGOs which have critically looked at its governance style.”
He added such actions leave room for speculation “especially after a heated election that is still contested”.
George Kegoro of Kenya Human Rights Commission, who was at the premises at the time of the raid, condemned it saying its timing is bad and raises many questions.
“If they purport to have come to search for bank accounts, they are not found within the premises. Raiding a private premise with a fake warrant is ill-advised.”
This comes after the NGOs Coordination Board wrote to the DCI to shut down the organisation over claims it is operating illegally.
Fazul said the organisation has not been registered and should be shut down. He also said its directors and members should be arrested for contravening the NGO provisions.
The board is also on the spot for targeting KHRC over allegations it is operating illegal bank accounts, employing expatriates fraudulently and failing to account for funds.
On August 1,Fazul targeted Sh530 million in the accounts of an NGO associated with Raila’s daughter Rosemary.
More on this: Fazul asks DCI to shut down AfriCOG, arrest directors over illegal operations
Fazul has been criticised over the manner in which he runs the authority, many saying his academic qualifications are questionable.
In an interview on NTV on Wednesday morning, former Law Society of Kenya chairman Apollo Mboya said the executive has no mandate to take the actions he is taking.
Members of the civil society have denounced the board’s actions.
Read: NGO board chair Fazul Mahamed grilled over degree