DCI links Sakaja to global crime ring as ‘fake’ degree saga takes another twist

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja who was on June 16, 2022 facing arrest after the DCI said that he was a suspect in an international criminal syndicate even as his “ fake” degree saga drew in Ugandan authorities.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja was Thursday night facing arrest after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said that he was a suspect in an international criminal syndicate even as his “ fake” degree saga drew in Ugandan authorities.

DCI boss George Kinoti Thursday evening said Mr Sakaja and officials of Team University in Uganda, where the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate for the Nairobi gubernatorial race claims to have acquired a degree, are suspects in an international organised crime syndicate.

“We will not surrender our capital city to frauds. We will involve all international agencies in investigating and prosecuting anyone involved in academic fraud,” Mr Kinoti told the Nation.

The dramatic escalation of a row over Mr Sakaja’s eligibility to vie for Nairobi governorship apparently followed the intervention of Ugandan Education minister, Janet Museveni, who reportedly sent government officials to seek evidence of Mr Sakaja’s time at the institution.

Admission letter

The officials, Nation understands, demanded evidence of Mr Sakaja’s admission letter, date of admission, proof of payment of tuition fees, and proof of coursework done.

Mr Sakaja faces a three-year jail term if a court finds that he forged his academic degree certificate and transcripts.

“Any person who forges any document or electronic record is guilty of an offence which unless otherwise stated, is a felony and he/she is liable unless owing to the circumstances of forgery or the nature of the thing forged some other punishment is provided, to imprisonment of three years,” says Section 349 of the Penal Code.

The embattled senator alluded to threats of arrest in a charged post on Facebook on Wednesday, while defending his degree certificate.

“Not even the threats to arrest me will dim our resolve to serve the people of Nairobi. The people of Nairobi have resoundingly rejected your [President Uhuru Kenyatta’s] project and are looking forward to electing their own,” he charged.

Defended his degree

Mr Sakaja has defended his degree, which has been questioned by a petitioner who has asked the electoral commission’s dispute resolution committee to revoke his clearance to run for the governor’s seat. A university degree from an accredited institution is among the requirements to secure clearance to vie for the top county seat.

On Thursday, while campaigning in Nyamira, Deputy President William Ruto, whose UDA party has sponsored the senator to run for governor, lashed out at the authorities, demanding that Mr Sakaja be left alone.

He even dragged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni into the row.

“I want to tell our competitors: Leave Johnson Sakaja alone. He was born in Nairobi and he has the required academic credentials. The deep state and system are making calls all over, including to the Uganda State House, wanting to stop Sakaja from becoming the Nairobi governor,” Dr Ruto claimed.

He challenged his opponents to allow the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to do its job without interference.

“Those of you doing all these things, please let the IEBC do its job. For you, let us meet at the ballot. Sakaja will be a candidate and we will defeat you,” Dr Ruto said.

Mr Sakaja had on Wednesday secured a temporary reprieve when the High Court quashed a decision by the Commission for University Education (CUE) revoking the recognition of his degree.

High Court orders questioned

On Thursday, the matter took yet another twist after a voter questioned the authenticity of the High Court orders that suspended revocation of his degree certificate.

The voter, Mr Dennis Gakuu, through his lawyer, Ms Njoki Mboce, has claimed that the court orders are questionable because they were issued by a judge who is away on official duties.

In the letter addressed to the High Court deputy registrar, Judicial Review Division, Nairobi, Ms Mboce wants a confirmation that the judge, Justice Jirus Ngaah, actually attended to Mr Sakaja's case.

She has also asked for a confirmation that the judge issued the interim orders against the decision of the CUE to revoke Mr Sakaja’s degree certificate acquired from Team University in Kampala, Uganda.

Ms Mboce said before the ruling by Justice Ngaah, there was a public notice indicating that the judge would not sit between June 15 and 18.

The orders were issued by the judge at 9.03pm on June 15.

The notice further states that all matters coming up during the period the judge will be away will be rescheduled.

The letter is also copied to Chief Justice Martha Koome and Principal Judge of the High Court Lydia Achode. In the ruling in question, the judge temporarily barred the electoral commission from striking Mr Sakaja’s name from the list of governorship candidates based on the decision of the CUE to revoke his university degree certificate.

The court also compelled the CUE to maintain the validity of Mr Sakaja’s degree pending further directions by the court.

‘Status quo ante’

In addition, the court ordered maintenance of the ‘status quo ante’ (the previously existing state of affairs) pending disposal of the case.

The decision of the court in Mr Sakaja’s case means that the decision of the CUE has no effect at the moment since it will remain suspended until a judicial review case filed by the senator is determined.

While suspending the decision of the CUE, Justice Ngaah found that Mr Sakaja had made out a case for grant of authority to fight the CUE’s decision.

“Considering the material before court, I am satisfied that Mr Sakaja has made out a case for grant of leave to file a substantive motion for judicial review orders,” said the judge.

He gave the senator the nod to pursue the quashing of the decision the CUE made on June 14 revoking the “recognition” of the senator’s degree from Team University.

Order of prohibition

The judge also allowed the senator to apply for an order of prohibition restraining IEBC from striking him from the list of cleared gubernatorial candidates for the Nairobi County seat.

The court orders came after Mr Sakaja sued CUE, arguing that its decision to revoke his degree certificate was anchored on a mischievous political agenda.

He said the principal objective of CUE’s move was to eliminate him from the Nairobi gubernatorial election on August 9.

“It is self-evident that CUE [is] being steered by external forces in a collateral mission being waged against Mr Sakaja. He has not been accorded a fair hearing, thus the decision is in absolute breach of the fundamental rules of natural justice,” his lawyer Elias Mutuma said.

In his court papers, the embattled politician argues that the decision is illegal, biased and amounts to an unfair administration action.

“Sakaja is aggrieved by the decision of CUE because the said decision was unfairly and discriminately against him and in favour of his political rivals,” Mr Mutuma said.

He adds that the revocation was rashly undertaken without any evidence as the matter is still under investigation.

The case will be mentioned on June 22 for directions on hearing.


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