Kenya 2022: Top governor candidates in the hot seat over fake degrees

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Thursday, 16 June 2022 17:08, updated on Monday, 20 June 2022 11:44
Johnson Sakaja ( photo: @SakajaJohnson)

Six top candidates vying for governorship in #Kenya's August polls are in the spotlight for allegedly submitting fake academic credentials to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for clearance. One of them is Johnson Sakaja who is running for the coveted Nairobi Governor seat.

Sakaja, from William Ruto’s UDA party, is among the politicians who are under scrutiny after four different complaints were filed by voters in Nairobi alleging that he never graduated from any Kenyan or foreign university.

The petitioners argue that Sakaja fraudulently acquired the Team University degree certificate as he was not in the graduating list of the Ugandan university in 2016.

They also say he did not graduate from the University of Nairobi, even though he registered for a course in Actuarial Science.

Constitutional requirements

According to the 2010 constitution, a governor candidate must hold a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

Sakaja, who appears unshaken by the allegations, has continued with his political campaign in Nairobi.

The desperate attempts by President Kenyatta and the so-called Deep State will fall on the sword of justice

Through his lawyer, Adrian Kamotho, Sakaja says the claims about his academic papers are political. “Those allegations are [a] personalised vendetta and smear campaign.”

On Wednesday 15 June, things took a turn for the worst for Sakaja after Kenya’s Commission for University Education (CUE) revoked its approval of his degree from Team University in Uganda.

Sakaja accuses President Uhuru Kenyatta of having a hand in his woes, adding that despite efforts to stop him, he will still be on the ballot to run against Polycarp Igathe, who has the president’s support.

“The desperate attempts by President Kenyatta and the so-called Deep State will fall on the sword of justice,” he said on his Facebook page where he posted his certificates.

Kevin Ochol, a Nairobi resident who supports Sakaja’s bid, says he has lost hope in his candidacy after the CUE decision. “I’m sorry for him, he should just quit,” he tells The Africa Report.

University student leaders in Nairobi have also urged Sakaja to go back to school and finish his studies before running for elective positions.

Dispute resolution committee

Other candidates whose academic qualifications have raised eyebrows are:

  • Cleophas Malala, vying for Kakamega Governor (ally of William Ruto)
  • Mithika Linturi, vying for Meru Governor (ally of William Ruto)
  • Simba Arati, vying for Kisii Governor (ally of Raila Odinga)
  • Granton Samboja, incumbent Taita Taveta Governor, seeking a second term (ally of Raila Odinga)
  • Wavinya Ndeti, vying for Machakos (ally of Raila Odinga)

Since last week, the IEBC has been at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi to listen and determine the disputes in compliance with Section 74 of the Elections Act, which provides that electoral disputes shall be determined within 10 days of lodging the complaint with the commission.

Under Section 349 of the penal code, any person found guilty of forging academic degree certificates and transcripts faces a three-year jail term.

Peter Kagwanja, a political analyst, says candidates vying for political office, such as governorship, should be honest and get genuine academic papers.

“Decent Kenyans must labour for their degree,” he says.

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