The Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a High Court decision nullifying Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi’s election. The court said Abdi lost his seat for failing to appear before High Court judge Alfred Mabeya to defend how he attained his academic certificates.
Three appellate judges Philip Waki, Asike Makhandia and Patrick Kiage ruled that Abdi’s failure to appear before Justice Mabeya to give his evidence made his opponents’ case stronger because they testified in court even after filing their affidavits querying the authenticity of his academic papers.
According to the judges, he alone could have explained which high schools he attended and the grades he attained.
“Only he could say what his student number was, who his tutors and lecturers were, what grades he attained and when he graduated. Only he could explain the strange absence of his name from the graduation list for the day the degree certificate he produced related to,” reads the judgment.
In the 56-page judgment, the judges said the High Court decision stands because Abdi did not qualify to vie and was not validly elected.
“The cavalier attitude evidenced by the appellant (governor) in the face of serious questions about his eligibility to vie for the seat of governor was compounded and rendered tragic by his choice to stay away from the proceedings and therefore not only fail to present his side of the story, but also keep himself from being cross-examined on his replying affidavit, thereby robbing it any probative value,” said Justice Waki who read the judgment.
The judges said Abdi (below) ought not to have been in the race in the first place, adding that one who is not qualified to vie cannot hold onto his “false victory by pointing to the margin of his vote vis-à-vis his competitors’”.
Abdi moved to the Court of Appeal after failing to convince the High Court that he graduated from Kampala University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Justice Mabeya had ruled that his name was missing from the March 1, 2012 list of graduands and he failed to appear in court to explain why this happened.
“I make a finding that as at August 8, 2017, the first respondent (governor) did not have the academic qualifications to vie for the position of governor. He was therefore not legally cleared to vie for the position as he did not satisfy the provisions of section 22(2) of the Elections Act,” reads the High Court decision that aggrieved him.
The petitioners had claimed that Abdi did not sit for “O” or “A” level exams to enable him enroll in any university for a degree course.