Lack of a university degree and evidence of forged academic qualifications were the reasons Chief Justice David Maraga’s wanted to nullify Wajir governor Mohamed Abdi’s election.
Maraga and fellow dissenting Supreme Court judge Isaac Lenaola, in their minority ruling, affirmed the mandatory requirement of a university degree for one’s election as President, Deputy President, Governor or Deputy Governor.
Following the 4-2 Supreme Court ruling on Friday, lawyers and politicians have argued the majority decision awarded governor Abdi a degree he did not possess in the first place.
In his dissenting ruling, Justice Lenaola delved into the bottom of the degree qualification requirement, concluding that it was “a mandatory prerequisite for eligibility to vie in a gubernatorial election grounded in the Constitution.”
Additionally, Lenaola said the issue of academic qualifications forms one of the grounds upon which an election can be challenged.
The apex judges ruled that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had a limited mandate to handle pre-election nomination disputes, especially in dealing with constitutional matters.
They said the IEBC, for instance, cannot conclusively determine a nationality issue as set out in criteria for election of President, governor or MP.
“It leaves me in no doubt that the election courts also have a jurisdiction to determine pre-election nomination disputes that go to the root of an election, especially those that IEBC had not determined on merit like the one giving rise to this appeal,” Lenaola said.
The ruling also delivered a harsh condemnation on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s capacity to authenticate academic papers submitted by aspirants of political offices.
This lifted the lid on the possibility that hundreds of politicians who won the 2017 General Election could have circumvented the legal requirement and managed to submit fake academic papers for clearance.
The IEBC’s failure to develop a rigorous vetting process involving authentication of degrees with various institutions of higher learning, coupled with pressure and limited time, could have offered a loophole that was exploited by scrupulous politicians.
“I, therefore, find that the academic qualification of a university degree is a prerequisite for election to the position of County Governor and even Deputy County Governor that applied in the 2013 and 2017 general elections and, unless specifically amended, will apply in future elections,” Maraga ruled.
According to the CJ, former governor Ahmed Abdullahi, who successfully challenged Abdi’s election at the High Court, tabled evidence to support his allegations that his opponent’s degree certificate was not genuine.
Maraga criticized Abdi and said he failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he possessed a genuine degree.