Senator Cleophas Malala overcomes hurdle as court clears his governorship bid

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala. [File, Standard]

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala will be on the ballot as the Amani National Congress (ANC) candidate for Kakamega County gubernatorial seat.

This is after Justice Patrick J. Otieno of the High Court in Kakamega on Friday, July 15 dismissed a petition challenging his eligibility to run in the August 9 General Election.

Malala will face off against Fernandes Barasa of ODM, among others.

In June 2022, two petitioners moved to court to block Malala’s gubernatorial candidature over allegations that he doesn’t have a valid bachelor’s degree.

Malala claims to be a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology from the United States International University, Africa. He said he graduated from USIU-Africa in 2011.

Justice Otieno said the petitioners failed to prove that Malala did not graduate from USIU-Africa with an undergraduate degree.

"The petitioners in the case have failed to support the claim that Senator Cleophas Malala is ineligible to contest because he doesn't meet the academic qualifications. The petition fails, and being a public interest litigation, each party shall bear their own costs," ruled the judge.

Justice Otieno said he relied on a letter from the Commission for University Education (CUE), which confirmed that USIU-Africa and the course that the senator pursued were credible.

The judge said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can now go ahead to substantively gazette Malala’s name among candidates in the race to succeed Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who is inegligble for re-election having served the maximum two terms.

Malala will compete against six other candidates.

Justice Otieno said the petitioners, Franklin Shilingi and Fred Muka, failed to file responses against Malala’s affidavit, leaving the court with no option but to rely on the respondent’s claims.

“While Malala alleges that he graduated from USIU-Africa in 2011, his degree certificate was printed and issued to him on August 10, 2019. This is eight years after the purported graduation, yet ordinarily the date on a degree certificate is the day a person graduates from an institution,” the petitioners had said in their suit.

Shilingi and Muka had also disputed Malala’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) certificate from Friends School Kamusinga.

“It (KCSE certificate) displays a different KNEC code from the official code issued to Friends School Kamusinga in the 2003 KCSE exam,” said the petitioners.