Sakaja withdraws degree suit against CUE

Sakaja

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja in a Nairobi court.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Nairobi senator Johnson Sakaja has withdrawn a suit he filed against the Commission for University Education (CUE) following revocation of his degree certificate acquired from Team University Uganda.

When the case was called out for hearing before the Judicial Review Court in Milimani Nairobi yesterday, Justice Jairus Ngaah said the senator had filed a notice for withdrawal of the case.

The judge allowed the intention noting that there was no objection by the other parties –the CUE, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the United Democratic Alliance party.

“The suit is marked as withdrawn with no orders as to costs,” said Justice Ngaah.

The development comes one week after another court dismissed a petition to disqualify Mr Sakaja from the gubernatorial race over validity of his academic papers.

In the judgment dated July 12, 2022 Justice Anthony Mrima said the electoral commission did not commit any mistake in clearing the senator.

The judge said there was no evidence he was not qualified to contest for the seat based on the documents he submitted to the elections returning officer.

In addition, the judge said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) does not have powers or mandate to verify authenticity of documents submitted by aspirants before clearing them.

Upholding decision of the IEBC’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.

“The evidential burden shifted to the petitioner. Even by considering the evidence in the affidavit that was struck out by the tribunal, there was no evidence to support allegations leveled against Mr Sakaja. The tribunal did not err in dismissing the complaint for lack of proof,” said the judge.

In the judgment, Justice Mrima also put the State investigative agencies and the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) over the increasing cases of forgery adding that none of the cases filed in civil courts had succeeded.

“I express serious concern in the manner in which serious matters of forged academic documents are handled in this country. I say so noting that this is not the first time that such a case has come before the courts and the High Court has declined to find a party accused of forging academic certificates culpable in none criminal proceedings,” said the judge.

He observed that a person who has been found culpable of forging an academic certificate should not be allowed to benefit from such illegalities.

“The investigative agencies and the office of the DPP must take up some measures to the vice. Until and unless such deliberate efforts are taken by necessary parties, the seemingly increasing manner of persons using forged academic documents will never come to an end. It is my hope and desire that this longstanding issue will going forward receive appropriate action from the concerned parties,” said Justice Mrima.

In the withdrawn suit, Mr Sakaja wanted court to quash decision of the CUE dated June 14 to revoke his degree.

He argued that the decision by the CUE was anchored on mischief and crafty political agenda whose principal objective was to eliminate him from the Nairobi City County Gubernatorial election.

"It is self-evident that the CUE are 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 lawyers Elias Mutuma and Adrian Kamotho said. 

He argued that the decision was illegal, biased and amounts to an unfair administration action.

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

He added that the revocation was rushly undertaken without any evidence as the matter was still under investigation.

"The decision was unjustly arrived at being on political and unfair grounds. Mr Sakaja was not accorded a fair hearing nor were any substantial reasons provided as to the decision made," said the lawyer.

While revoking the certification, the CUE chaired by Pro Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha said that it had received material information about the authenticity of Mr Sakaja's degree.

The commission said it required further investigations to ascertain the validity of the said degree certificate.

But Mr Sakaja argued that on June 6, 2022, the CUE had issued a confirmation that the said degree was valid and that the same agency issued another confirmation to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) affirming the recognition of his academic qualifications.

Additionally, that the CUE had on June 6, 2022 written to him confirming the recognition of the said certificate. 

"Strangely on June 14, 2022, without an iota of legality or justification, the CUE purported to revoke “the recognition” of Mr Sakaja's degree.  It was extremely outrageous, irrational and preposterous for the CUE to purport to revoke the ‘recognition’ of the degree when admittedly they were still undertaking investigations. By all logical standards, revocation cannot precede investigation," says lawyer Mutuma.

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