High Court suspends petitions against Sakaja

Nairobi Governor Candidate Johnson Sakaja at the Milimani Courts.

Nairobi Governor Candidate Johnson Sakaja at the Milimani Courts.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

The High Court has suspended proceedings of three petitions that seek disqualification of Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja from the governor race.

Judge Hedwig Ong'undi stayed the proceedings to await outcome of an appeal filed by Mr Sakaja at the Commission for University Education (CUE), where he is seeking reversal of its decision to revoke the recognition of his degree from Team University, Uganda.

The judge directed that the three consolidated petitions filed by David Gitau, Antony Macharia Munene and Timothy Charo Odhiambo be mentioned on Thursday this week to confirm whether CUE has ruled on the appeal. 

"The three petitions are premised on the revocation of Mr Sakaja's degree certificate. It would not be proper for this court to continue hearing this matter when the decision by the CUE is being contested by way of appeal or review before the said body," said Justice Ong'undi.

Hence, she said, the most appropriate action would be to temporarily stay the proceedings to await the outcome of the appeal.

"Pursuance of the appeal is a right bestowed on any person wishing to challenge an administrative decision," she stated.

The petitioners want court to endorse decision of the CUE to revoke the recognition of Mr Sakaja's degree from Uganda.

The petitions are based on the CUE’s letter dated June 30, 2022 addressed to the electoral commission, which indicated that the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate had no valid degree certificate.

In the court papers, the petitioners argue that Mr Sakaja is ineligible.

CUE had stated that its investigations established Mr Sakaja was never admitted to the Kampala-based University and that it no longer recognizes his degree. 

The petitioners have also sued the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for declining to disqualify Mr Sakaja from the contest.

They are aggrieved by IEBC’s decision to dismiss the CUE’s letter. They are also aggrieved by the electoral commission’s reasoning that the only way to compel it to reverse its decision in clearing Mr Sakaja's governorship bid is through a court order setting aside the decision by the commission’s Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC).

DRC had thrown out a petition that was challenging the nomination of the UDA candidate, stating that it lacked investigative powers and it could only rely on a criminal conviction against Mr Sakaja for it to deem his Degree Certificate as invalid.

But the petitioners said that the IEBC committed an illegality by disregarding advise of the CUE as they believe the same was binding.

According to them, by dismissing the letter the electoral commission abdicated its mandate of ensuring that candidates for election are duly qualified for those positions.

Judge Ong'undi also declined to address the issue of the impact of a judgment rendered by Justice Anthony Mrima on July 13, 2022 on a petition concerning validity of Mr Sakaja's certificate.

 In that judgment, the court found there was no evidence to prove that the certificate was fake. 

The court said IEBC did not commit any mistake in clearing Mr Sakaja's bid since there was no evidence he was not qualified to contest for the seat based on the documents he submitted to the elections returning officer.

Upholding decision of the electoral commission’s dispute resolution committee to throw out the complaint lodged against Mr Sakaja's candidature, the judge ruled that the petitioner, Dennis Gakuu Wahome, failed to discharge the burden of proving the senator’s Team University certificate was fake.