Degree saga: Agencies are sleeping on the job

The recommendation by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji for the police to investigate all candidates accused of presenting fake academic papers and staff in state agencies that cleared them is welcome.

The investigators should quickly comb through evidence provided by the aspirants, scrutinise them and promptly charge those found culpable.

The move by the chief prosecutor came hours after Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai ordered the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to open criminal investigations against Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Machakos gubernatorial candidate Wavinya Ndeti over related claims. Mr Sakaja has been summoned to appear before the DCI today, when he is expected to appear before the Commission for University Education (CUE) to prove his degree claim.

The widening of the investigations to include complaints against aspirants lodged with the electoral body and relevant government agencies, including those circulating in the digital, print and electronic media, should, therefore, lead to speedy investigations. The dragnet must extend to officials in the agencies that cleared the aspirants without verifying the authenticity of the academic papers presented before them.

It is their responsibility—for which they are fairly remunerated—to ensure that only those aspirants with unimpeachable academic records are cleared to vie for public office as required. Candidates for president, deputy president, governor and deputy governor are required by law to be university graduates, and it should be these agencies’ jobs to ensure that only those with the valid documents go through.

An inter-agency team should be set up to ensure that such cases are netted early in the clearance chain to avoid such last-minute back-and-forth between aspirants, the vetting agencies and the electoral commission. As we have said before, questions on the validity of academic documents presented by aspirants seeking to represent Kenyans in such high offices go to the heart of their integrity and the elections itself. Let us not allow games. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations to get it right. Let’s do that now, not later.

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