Making of a titanic battle: Sakaja, Wavinya get IEBC nod to vie

Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Johnson Sakaja leave the Milimani Law Court.

Nairobi gubernatorial candidate Johnson Sakaja (centre) and his running mate James Muchiri (left) leave the Milimani Law Courts. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Gubernatorial candidates Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), and Julius Malombe (Kitui) were yesterday cleared to vie for the seats after petitions challenging their clearance by the electoral agency were thrown out.

The trio’s wins followed Friday’s clearance of Polycarp Igathe (Nairobi) and Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta).

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, who wants to Mombasa’s next governor on a Wiper ticket, will know his fate on Monday June 20.

He is challenging his rejection on the basis of impeachment, saying, he had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court. But his fate appeared sealed yesterday when the tribunal rejected Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Kiambu Senate candidate Karung’o Thang’wa.

This is after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Disputes Resolution Tribunal upheld his rejection, saying, he had been validly impeached by the Kiambu County Assembly and could not be cleared to hold public office.

For Mr Sakaja, his win at the tribunal came after a series of allegations over the authenticity of his degree, which he claims to have acquired from Team University in Uganda.

Upholding Nairobi County Returning Officer Albert Gogo’s decision to clear Mr Sakaja, the tribunal said it could not fault him as they had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the degree presented by the city senator.

“This committee and IEBC have no tools to establish the authenticity of the degree certificate presented by Sakaja,” stated the tribunal panel led by lawyer George Mburugu sitting with Juliana Cherera (IEBC vice-chairperson) and Commissioner Boya Molu.

The tribunal added that Mr Sakaja’s clearance was in accordance with the law and neither Mr Gogo nor IEBC can be faulted for clearing him.

The agency said Mr Gogo couldn’t disbelieve the degree certificate presented by Mr Sakaja who has also been summoned to appear before the Commission of University Education (CUE) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) today to prove he attended Team University and graduated in October 2016.

CUE and DCI want the senator to provide his letter of admission, proof of coursework, transcripts for every semester, a graduation booklet with his name on it, as well as graduation photos.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed the Inspector-General of Police to carry out speedy investigations to establish the authenticity of Mr Sakaja’s degree and present a report by July 1.

“The burden on whether Sakaja is unqualified lies with the complainants who alleged he is unfit to vie for governorship Nairobi,” ruled IEBC. The agency also said Mr Sakaja has never been charged in any court of law for forging his degree certificates.

After the ruling, Mr Sakaja told the media he was “not cowed by the Deep State’s machinations and attempts to lock me out of the Nairobi gubernatorial race.”

“I’m sure of a resounding victory,” the UDA candidate stated.

At Jacaranda Grounds in Embakasi East Constituency, UDA presidential candidate DP Ruto was upbeat, saying, Mr Sakaja’s clearance was the beginning of his team’s bid to take over the city.

The DP laughed off what he termed as attempts by the “Deep State and the system” to block Mr Sakaja from vying.

“The courts have said Sakaja has a degree and shall contest for governor in Nairobi. I now want to tell the ‘Deep State’ and the system who had planned ill against our brother Sakaja, mtajua hamjui,” the DP said.

He accused some government officials of plotting to install a “puppet governor” by orchestrating Mr Sakaja’s downfall.

“We cannot allow a puppet to be elected governor of Nairobi,’ the DP said. Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party, which is led by former prime minister Raila Odinga has fronted Mr Igathe as its candidate for the Nairobi governorship contest.

The DP claimed Azimio had sensed defeat and sought to stop Mr Sakaja from contesting.

On Ms Ndeti, the tribunal said she is qualified and the degree certificate she presented meets the IEBC’s requirements.

“I’m qualified. I’ve a master’s degree in computer science. My father did not sell his cows to take another cow to school. I’m over-qualified. None of my competitors can match my academic credentials,” she told the press after the ruling at the Milimani High Court. Ms Ndeti and her lawyer Eunice Lumallas told off the investigative agencies trying to fault her degree certificates and competence.

She expressed confidence of winning the Machakos gubernatorial race with a landslide and blamed a former senior civil servant eyeing the seat of using state machinery to frustrate her.

“The summons to appear before the DCI is an affront to the two thirds gender rule and a bid to block women from competing for top elective positions,”Ms Lumallas said. She said Ms Ndeti has not received any summons to appear before the DCI but only saw social media commends.

In its ruling, the tribunal dismissed the complaint, saying, it lacks jurisdiction to determine the validity of Ms Ndeti’s degrees.

“This committee lacks the jurisdiction to investigate the authenticity of the degrees of Wavinya. We therefore dismiss the complaint and uphold the returning officer’s verdict to clear Wavinya for Machakos governorship,” the tribunal ruled.

The petition had queried the validity of Ms Ndeti’s university education and the degrees she earned abroad in the United Kingdom.

The tribunal also cleared Dr Malombe, saying, his dispute was a Wiper party issue between its members, former Kenyan Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Kiema Kilonzo and its nominee, Dr Malombe.

IEBC dismissed the complaints, saying, the team couldn’t delve into party disputes and, “therefore, the complaint by Kiema Kilonzo lacks merit.”

The tribunal concurred with the returning officer that Dr Malombe was competent to vie.

On Mr Thang’wa, the tribunal said he was validly denied clearance on grounds that he was impeached over corruption by the Kiambu County Assembly.

Mr Thangw’as lawyer Ng’ang’a Mbugua said he will appeal against the decision.

“Our analysis of the fact and law as presented leads us to the conclusion that the respondent [IEBC] acted within the law to decline the complainant [Mr Thang’wa] on the account of him having been removed from public office and presenting himself for nomination outside the gazetted terms.

“In light of the foregoing, the committee upholds the decision of the returning officer in declining to nominate the complainant and the complaint is hereby dismissed with no order to cost,” the tribunal said.