It’s victory for Wajir governor after rigorous petition battle

Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi celebrates at the Supreme Court. (George Njunge, Standard)
Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud survived a big moment in his life after miraculously being saved on the last attempt by the Supreme Court.

Having lost twice before the High Court and Court of Appeal for lacking a university degree, a requirement for qualification to contest for governor, Mr Mohamud pegged his hopes on the apex court and the majority decision did not disappoint him.

His sigh of relief and victory song after the verdict which contrasted the gloom that had engulfed his supporters before the decision, showed a man who owed his victory to his lawyers led by Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia for overturning what was seen as impossible.

“I thank God for the victory and the team of lawyers who managed to convince the court. The victory is for the people of Wajir, it is now time to complete what we promised the electorate,” he said.

Mohamud’s win came as a result of his opponents’ fatal failure to question his academic credentials and eligibility to contest for the seat of governor before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission prior to the August 8 2017 election.

A majority decision by Judges Jacton Ojwang, Mohamed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u ruled that both the High Court and the Appellate Court made a mistake in nullifying his election based on academic qualifications when the dispute had not been determined by the IEBC.

“We find and hold that both the High Court and Court of Appeal wrongly assumed jurisdiction on a matter that did not fall under them. We are wondering why the petitioners waited until after the election to question his academic qualifications when it should have been determined before the election,” ruled the judges.

It appeared that the majority judges decided to consider and base their verdict on the law and chose to disregard the facts of whether the governor obtained a degree from Kampala University.

This was despite the dissenting judgements by Chief Justice David Maraga and Isaac Lenaola who found that the governor did not have the required academic qualifications to vie for governor.

According to the CJ, it would be tragic if a person who did not have proper academic qualification is elected when the Constitution is clear on qualifications for each elective position.

“If he had a university degree as claimed, he would have flashed it out instead of waiting for the long litigation. He was not in the list of graduates the year he said he graduated and couldn’t produce his academic certificates when he appeared for vetting before a parliamentary committee,” the CJ said.

Although the majority judges did not pronounce themselves on Mohamud’s academic qualifications, they ruled that it was not for the election court to determine it since it was not a matter that fell under its jurisdiction.

Their decision ended the legal battle between Mohamud and his opponents in the 2017 election Ahmed Abdullahi and Ahmed Abdi who challenged his election.

High Court Judge Alfred Mabeya nullified the governor’s election on grounds that he did not have the required academic qualifications to vie for the seat, a decision that was upheld by Court of Appeal.

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Mohamed Abdi MohamudWajir GovernorSupreme CourtIEBC