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Johnson Sakaja's name remains on ballot for city governor race, court rules

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja during the hearing of a case challenging his participation in this year's as a candidate for the position of Governor over an alleged lack of degree certificate. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Senator Johnson Sakaja will be on the ballot in the race for the Nairobi governor's seat.

The High Court Monday declined to order his removal from the ballot to await a determination on whether his degree from Team University, Uganda, is genuine.

Justice Hedwig Ong’undi said Sakaja was included in the ballot following a court order that has not been set aside. She said the ballot papers have already been printed; therefore, it would cost Kenyans more money to print new ones.

However, the judge put Sakaja’s case in abeyance and ordered him to follow the set-out appeal process.

According to the law, Sakaja ought to file an appeal before Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha after the Commission for University Education (CUE) committee rejected his arguments.

Justice Ong’undi ordered that he should file his appeal within 10 days.

“From the onset, I wish to state that the third respondent’s degree had been before IEBC and the Judicial Review Division. There must be a determination whether a degree is genuine or not. This decision was made in July 2022 and he has a right to appeal. The third respondent (Sakaja) should be given that opportunity to exhaust the appeal before the Cabinet Secretary,” said Justice Ong’undi.

“It is only fair to exhaust the appeal process. I, therefore, order a stay of these proceedings until the exhaustion of the appeal before the CS and that is within 10 days and report the same in October.”

Sakaja filed a case before the High Court, challenging the CUE’s revocation of the recognition of his degree. He initially had moved to the Judicial Review Division of the High Court after which CUE withdrew its first revocation.

The commission ordered him to appear before it and produce evidence that he had schooled and read for the degree from the Ugandan institution.

The CUE wrote a second revocation, which resulted in several cases, including one that sought to have him out of the election.

He appealed before the CUE’s committee but the seven-member team dismissed the appeal.

The committee comprises Senior Counsel Lucy Kambuni, Dr Elizabeth Muli, John Mose, Prof Anne Muigai, David Onyango and Prof Grace Njoroge. They told Sakaja that he could proceed and file a further appeal to the Education Cabinet Secretary.

“Before we conclude, the commission wishes to note your generic assertion that the chairman of the commission, Prof Nyaigoti Chacha, was conflicted as he was associated with a rival political party.

"This unsubstantiated allegation is without merit and is hereby dismissed. Consequently and based on the totality of the above grounds, the commission hereby rejects your appeal in its entirety,” the committee ruled.

CUE’s lawyer Thande Kuria told the court that the committee took all the necessary steps before throwing out the 12 points appeal.

However, Sakaja’s lawyers Elias Mutuma, Adrian Kamotho, and Duncan Okatch said he was not given a chance by the university education regulator to file all the required documents to defend his degree.

In his case, Sakaja argues that CUE has no powers to interfere with the election process. According to him, the decision to revoke recognition of his degree a second time was based on rumours.

“The decisions by the respondent are purely based on mere assertions and allegations and not on a sound basis nor have they been made in accordance to any credible evidence, this being that investigation on the matter are yet to be concluded as confirmed by its counterpart in Uganda vide the letter dated 29th June 2022,” says Sakaja.