Petitioners abandon university degree case against Jumwa

Former Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa

Gender and Public Service Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Three petitioners who had challenged politician Aisha Jumwa's academic qualifications to vie for the Kilifi governor's seat abandoned the petition after she lost to Gideon Mung’aro.

Mr Rajab Menza, Mr Daniel Chengo and Concern Citizen Kenya are yet to prosecute the appeal, which they filed in the Court of Appeal in Mombasa.

Their lawyer, Derick Odhiambo, said the petitioners appeared to have lost interest in the case after Ms Jumwa lost the August 9 polls.

"She lost the elections. Most of the issues raised in the petitions have been overtaken by events. But they can still pursue the matter on Chapter Six of the Constitution on integrity because that was one of the grounds in the petition," he said.

Mr Mung’aro of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) was declared winner of the Kilifi governor’s race, garnering 143,773 votes against Ms Jumwa’s 65,893.

Ms Jumwa, a former Malindi MP, was the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate and was Mr Mung’aro’s main opponent in the elections.

Following her loss, President William Ruto nominated her to the Public Service ministry. She is yet to be vetted by MPs.

In two separate petitions, the plaintiffs challenged Ms Jumwa’s nomination and gazetting as a UDA candidate for governor.

They challenged her suitability to vie for the post, arguing that she did not meet the legal qualifications because she lacked a university degree from an institution recognised in Kenya and that she was never awarded a degree certificate.

They alleged that documents that she produced to seek clearance were not authentic and that she did not meet the requirements of

Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity.

Ms Jumwa had objected to this case, noting that the High Court was not the right forum to deal with the issues raised by the petitioners.
She said the petitioners should have approached the electoral agency’s Dispute Resolution Committee before rushing to court.

Just like Ms Jumwa, Mr Mung'aro also faced a petition against his candidacy on allegations that he did not have valid academic papers.

Ms Ali Kibibi had filed the case in a Mombasa court, where she asked that Mr Mung'aro be blocked from vying.

The petitioner asked the court to disqualify Mr Mung’aro and bar him from holding public office.

Through lawyer Edgar Busiega, Ms Ali told the court that her petition was not about pre-election issues.

But through lawyer Benjamin Binyenya, Mr Mung’aro fought off the allegations, insisting that he was a holder of a genuine degree certificate.

Mr Binyenya said Gretsa University, which awarded him the certificate, is based in Kenya and thus he was no longer required to authenticate the documents.

"Mr Mung’aro was awarded his degree and is qualified and was cleared to run for governor," he said.

In July, Justice Njoki Mwangi dismissed the case, noting that her court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. She also said Ms Ali should have exhausted all pre-election dispute resolution mechanisms before approaching the court.

The High Court has declared that a degree certificate is not a requirement for one to qualify to vie for the governor's post. 

This ruling means that all cases facing current governors will likely be terminated.