IEBC dismisses CUE letter revoking Johnson Sakaja’s degree

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja briefs media outside the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters on June 17, 2022 where he had presented himself over the authenticity of his degree.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The circus around Johnson Sakaja’s degree certificate continued on Friday after the electoral commission dismissed a letter by the Commission for University Education (CUE) that had revoked it.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said that the only way to compel it to reverse its decision in clearing Mr Sakaja to run in the August 9 polls is through a court order setting aside the decision by the commission’s Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC).

IEBC’s Dispute Resolution Committee had thrown out a petition that was challenging his nomination, stating that it lacked jurisdiction to determine the validity of the senator’s university degree.

The development is a major win for Mr Sakaja, who is running for Nairobi governor on Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA).

In a letter responding to CUE boss Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission cleared Mr Sakaja on the basis of a letter by CUE.

“The DRC judiciously considered the said complainant and made a finding that the returning officer could not be faulted for clearing Mr Sakaja based on the above degree certificate from Team University. Indeed, the returning officer’s main obligation, in ascertaining the educational qualifications, is to ensure that the provision of Regulation 47 of the Elections Regulations, 2022 are met,” said Mr Chebukati.

“It is recalled that the said degree certificate was accompanied by a letter of recognition dated June 6, 2022 from your good office, which the communication fully relied on,” he added.

The commission said that DRC made a finding that the commission lacks power to investigate and to determine the validity or otherwise of the certificates presented by the intending candidates as long as on the face of it, the candidates present a prima facie valid document.

He stated the committee further ruled that the only occasion the commission can act is when there have been investigations and criminal proceedings, leading to conviction.

“The totality of the foregoing is that the commission acted within the law and is now functus officio as far as the authenticity of the impugned degree certificate is concerned. The only way to compel the commission to revoke and reserve its decision is through a court order setting aside the decision of DRC,” said Mr Chebukati.

CUE initially revoked the recognition and later reversed the decision before again writing to IEBC to revoke it for the second time.

Mr Sakaja has maintained that he has the requisite qualifications to run for the seat and blames President Uhuru Kenyatta for using state agencies to block his bid.