25 February 2013

Kenya: Joho Degree Saga Back in Court

Nairobi, Kenya — A registered voter in Mombasa has returned to the High Court in a bid to bar Mombasa County ODM gubernatorial candidate Ali Hassan Joho from Monday's election.

Through the law firm of Kinoti and Kibe Company Advocate, Janet Ekumbo argues that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission which is listed as the first respondent, failed to give her a hearing.

She argues that she was forced to return to court after the IEBC declined to give her audience, to challenge the candidature of Joho and his running mate Hazel Katana.

"The first respondent (IEBC) has refused, neglected or otherwise failed to conduct its statutory duty to hear and determine the petitioner's objection within the specified period thereby making this petition necessary," her lawyers argue.

The High Court had ruled in January 31, that the IEBC is constitutionally empowered to deal with Ekumbo's objection.

In her petition, Ekumbo has named the Mombasa County Returning Officer as the person appointed by the IEBC for the purposes of conducting the election in the County of Mombasa as the second respondent. Joho is listed as the third respondent.

"Notwithstanding the objection aforementioned, on 31st January, 2013 and thereafter the 1st and 2nd respondents accepted and acted on the nomination papers prescribed by the 3rd respondent without paying regard to the serious allegation that Hassan Ali Joho was not qualified for university education and has not studied for such a degree qualification," she says in her petition.

Pegging her argument on a letter written by the dean of the school of Business and Management studies at Kampala University where Joho is said to have studied, she says in a sworn affidavit that the respondent was due to graduate in February and wants the court to rule that it was unlawful for IEBC to clear him as the degree certificate which had not been awarded could therefore not be recognised.

Ekumbo claims that Joho does not hold a valid degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

She claims the Transport Assistant Minister used unorthodox and fraudulent means to procure a university degree in order to pretend that he is a qualified holder of degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

"Your petitioner prays that a declaration be issued to declare that the certificate of the second respondent dated 30th January, 2013 and issued to Hassan Ali Joho is null and void ab initio," she avers.

The petition further sought "an order of mandamus be issued to compel the First Respondent (IEBC) to print and/or reprint ballot papers excluding the names of Hassan Ali Joho as the Orange Democratic Movement Candidate for the Governor seat, Mombasa County."

The Constitution and Elections Act, 2011 candidates for Governor and Deputy Governor must among other thing be holders of a degree from a university recognised in Kenya.

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