Why Sakaja could still be on the ballot

Sakaja

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja during a past event. 

Photo credit: File

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja could still be on the ballot paper gunning for the City Hall seat even as he fights integrity questions involving the authenticity of his academic papers.

With Wednesday’s decision by the High Court to temporarily bar the electoral commission from striking his name from the list of Nairobi governorship candidates based on the decision of the Commission of University Education (CUE) to revoke recognition of his university degree certificate, Mr Sakaja has secured a major reprieve.

The ruling compelled the CUE to maintain the validity of his degree pending further directions by the court.

The court also ordered for maintenance of ‘status quo ante’ (the previously existing state of affairs) pending disposal of the case.

Mr Sakaja has joined the list of public officers holding questionable academic credentials, who for many years have been fighting claims that their education papers are bogus. 

They include Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja, Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi.

Other political leaders who found themselves with legal battles concerning their education is Mombasa governor Hassan Ali Joho, former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu, former Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Wavinya Ndeti, Dagorreti North MP Simba Arati, former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Kakamega senator Cleophas Malala.

The decision of the court in Mr Skaja’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, High Court Judge Jairus 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 nod to seek quashing of the decision of the CUE made on June 14, 2022 revoking the ‘recognition’ of the senator’s degree from Teams University, Kampala, Uganda.

The judge also allowed the senator to apply for an order of prohibition restraining the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) from striking him from the list of cleared gubernatorial candidates for the Nairobi County seat.

The court orders came after Mr Sakaja sued the education Commission arguing that its decision to revoke his degree certificate was anchored on mischief and crafty political agenda.

He said the principal objective of the CUE’s move is to eliminate him from the Nairobi City County Gubernatorial election slated for August 9, 2022. 

"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 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 favor of his political rivals," lawyer Mutuma said.

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

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

He added that the decision by the agency was in violation of Mr Sakaja’s constitutional rights to a fair administrative action and a fair hearing.

In revoking the certification the CUE chaired by Pro Chacha Nyaigotti said that it had received material information about the authenticity of 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.

He also said that the same commission issued another confirmation to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission affirming the recognition of his academic qualifications.

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

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

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

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