There used to be a saying that "all publicity is good", but this isn't the case. In fact, one can argue that no publicity is good publicity these days. The last thing any organization wants is to be mired in controversy, but for some reason, this memo has escaped the attention of the AFRINIC leadership. Since last year, this organization has found itself in hot water with not only the law and judicial authorities but also with its resource members.
There have been many lawsuits against AFRINIC and the organization has spent a huge amount of its resource fighting, and in some cases, settling these lawsuits. The resources that would and should have been used for the betterment of the organization have been used to put out countless fires that have been started by its poor leadership.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and in the case of AFRINIC, the weakest link, unfortunately, comes from the top. How are the resource members meant to make things work if the leadership continually cuts them off at the knees? How is the organization meant to be successful if the leadership cannot prevent itself from being in the news for all the wrong reasons? The depths of corruption and deviancy rooted in the AFRINIC leadership is an issue that must be addressed immediately. However, we must first enumerate the lowlights of this leadership and explain clearly why they need to go.
Involvement in illegal activities
To understand the depravity of the situation, we must first start from the beginning. Before the now Eddy, Eddy Kayihura took office, his predecessor did not set a good example. It isn't a surprise that in the past 3 years, AFRINIC's lawsuits skyrocketed from 0 to over 20. In the process, the leadership has spent millions of organizational funds and resources in legal actions against its own membership.
Circling back to the former senior management of AFRINIC, Ernest Byaruhanga stole millions of IP addresses from AFRINIC to lease it out to black market; in the process pocketing millions using stolen goods. And his successor, Eddy Kayihura, followed in his footsteps by suddenly becoming a totalitarian that abuses his power. Earlier this year, it was discovered that Mr Kayihura was working closely with a known terrorist sympathizer.
Mr Kayihura has also been held in contempt of court multiple times for his failure to adhere to the bylaws and court orders. Recently, he made improper statements against a member by calling the member "vexatious" yet his claims and statements were authoritatively dismissed by a supreme court judge. Mr Kayihura was suspended by the courts for failing to adhere to the bylaws and for committing various illegal acts, contempt of court and subjudice. He claimed that he was suspended as a director and not as a CEO by playing with words. In a court document submitted by Eddy himself, Eddy confirms that AFRINIC lacks quorum and cannot transact. Nevetheless, this didn't stop Eddy from filing a case against AFRINIC, even though he is well-aware of AFRINIC's current status.
Endangering the Global Internet
The leadership in AFRINIC, led by Eddy Kayihura haven't stopped at making the members in the organization miserable, their goal is world domination. They continually make fictitious and bizarre statements based on nothing but lies. Some of these false statements include:
Asking every member to notify AFRINIC of any change of usage in resources
Claiming to having the power to limit a member's service to only 55 countries
And finally, having the right to monitor every-end user, and criminally forcing all their members, i.e. Telecomms to submit private data to them.
Furthermore, Eddy and the board directors have also carried out illegal investigation and monitoring of end users,. This goes against every single cyber rule in every country on Earth, but Eddy has refused to relent. These claims and false allegations caught the attention of foreign companies and one such company decided to speak up. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PCA) raised an essential issue that many didn't have the courage to speak out against over fears of retaliatory actions from AFRINIC. Because the PCA and many other companies in Pakistan obtain a portion of their internet resources from Afrinic, the proposed legal framework from Afrinic asking its resource members to monitor end users of its resources and report back to Afrinic is in direct violation of Pakistani law.
The Pakistani Telecommunications Authority went further to add that under the law in their country, companies are prohibited from monitoring any of their end users in order to protect users' rights of privacy. A scathing statement from the PTA reads:
"We are of the view that a non-governmental organization should not be allowed to leverage its registration database to have such extensive power and control over the entire globe and in particular, it should not have the power to monitor Internet end users in my country to violate our laws."
Besides this law, Mr Kayihura also started a new policy called "assisted review" as a means to reclaim IP addresses from the members. So far, all Mr Kayihura has accomplished is further dividing the resource members and destroying the Internet.
Election Mismanagement and Poor Leadership
AFRINIC, like any other organization, is governed by rules and regulations, bylaws that ensure chaos doesn't ensue. However, the very people in power meant to enforce these rules and operate by the bylaws are the first ones to break every rule. The board of directors and the Eddy were caught multiple times blatantly ignoring the bylaws by not allowing qualified members of the community to run for seats in the AFRINIC elections. All the nominated candidates were disqualified from running without any cogent reasoning. Despite the resource members clamoring for an explanation, none was given. Instead, the leadership in AFRINIC doubled down by illegally changing the bylaws to extend the board seats of certain members.
A resource member echoed the sentiments of his colleagues by penning down the following in the community mailing list:
"As a resource member in good standing, my organization nominated and got a seconder (also in good standing) for a proposed candidate. We however do not see the name on the published candidate slate despite this person being well qualified to be a valuable director on the board of Afrinic if given a chance. Because we are very much aware that the individual we nominated also meets the requirements of Section 13.12 of the bylaws of Afrinic in which the Nomcom is empowered to seek "additional conditions for the eligibility of candidates to the position of Board Directors", we hereby request that Nomcom provide details about how this individual was found ineligible or if it is a publishing error, that the error be corrected"
The NOMCOM and the board of directors were working in tandem to restrict qualified candidates from contesting the election. This didn't end here because by way of Board Resolution bearing reference 202202.676, the term of office for Elected Director holding Seat 6 was extended by one additional year. This might sound legit and above board, no pun intended, however, according to the Bylaws, the Board does not have the power to extend the term of office of any of its elected directors and therefore, this board Resolution bearing reference 202202.676 should have been annulled and rendered ineffective, yet it was passed amidst a chorus of complaints and objections from resource members. Furthermore, the Board recommended that only 3 seats be put up for election at the Annual General Members’ Meeting in June 2022. But according to the Bylaws, all Seats should have been put up for election at the Annual General Members’ Meeting. If the board members thought this escaped the attention, they were wrong because they faced a massive backlash which led to censorship, another illegal act but more on that later.
The bylaws were created to prevent corruption and monopoly of power, yet it was clearly being ignored. This led to an outcry and resource members made their voices heard so much so that the courts ordered a stop order on the elections until every issue was settled. Rather than see this as an opportunity to appease the resource members, the leadership in AFRINIC doubled down on the corruption. Eddy reached out to the ATU asking for it to nominate board members, once again going against the bylaws and the fundamentals of the RIR system and not giving the resource members the opportunity to vote in board members of their choice as pursuant to the bylaws. A court order was sent to the leadership in AFRINIC asking them to vacate the board seat held by Abdalla Omari. They instead ignored this court order but went even further by making him the vice chairman of Afrinic. This stinks of corruption. Since Abdalla was given a board seat and promoted to become the vice chairman, this means that all meetings or resolutions he participates in should be challenged and potentially declared null and void.
These criminal acts have become a regular occurrence within the organization in recent years and it's no wonder many resource members are actively fighting for change. During the recently concluded AGMM, the meeting was halted multiple times as a result of complaints from resource members. Many members were not sent tokens needed to attend the meeting for starters and when they were finally given access, they were largely ignored by the CEO and the board of directors holding the meeting. All complaints and questions went unanswered.
Violating the Rights of the Resource Members
The board of directors also passed illegal resolutions that allowed them to use organizational fees to battle the personal lawsuits of the board members and the CEO. The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS one board director, [REDACTED] has received a letter, prior to suit, from the legal representative of [REDACTED] in his country of residence;
WHEREAS other directors may face the same legal predicament;
RESOLVED to authorize the company to cover the legal costs in their defense;
RESOLVED to authorize the company's Legal Department to communicate and exchange with the legal representative of any director on matters covered by the Non-Disclosure Agreement.
This farce of a document allows the board of directors and even Eddy to use the resources and money from resource members to fight their legal battles. And when the resource members had enough of this, they decided to speak up. This didn't end well because the directors and CEO decided to do something that's never been done before in any RIR around the world.
The next logical step for the directors and CEO was to prevent freedom of speech in all the community mailing lists. They effectively ensure that nobody could post anything on the mailing lists that "violated community riles and guidelines" but everyone could see it for what it was, censorship. These mailing lists were created for one thing and one thing only, for the resource members. The directors were not content preventing the resource members from voting, they had to shutdown every negative word being spoken about them in the lists. This community that had stayed together for decades was destroyed in one night by the selfish acts of the current leadership. These acts have shown that the leadership have delusions of grandeur, are drunk with power and will do anything to ensure this power isn't taken from them. And if it means violating the rights of the resource members, then so be it.
The board of directors have threatened to take away the resources of every resource member who doesn't swear fealty to their selfish and illegal causes. They've made false claims to have the power to monitor the customers of resource members as well as having the power to approve new business. All outlandish claims that have caught the attention of international publications and other RIRs.
Is This the End of AFRINIC?
The organization has been burned to the ground by the rotten and corrupt leaders currently running it and things have to change. But is this the end of the RIR or can things be turned around? So many things have been done to prevent the organization from being run by this cabal but nothing has worked so far. The courts have been involved but the corrupt leadership are somewhat trying to prove that they are above the courts. Not even being held in contempt of court has slowed them down.
But, all hope isn't lost. NRS is a global non-profit membership organization advocating for a global unlimited, stable, and united Internet. We are doing everything we can to fight this corruption for the future of the Internet. We are made up of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from all around the world with the main goal being to protect Internet stability and availability, which is essential for not just businesses who want to operate but for all Internet users. We are fighting against the corrupt regime in AFRINIC. We release YouTube videos weekly on news surrounding internet governance and have regular articles discussing all things about the internet. Join us now to make the necessary changes for a better Internet.