Kenya: Juja Seat Candidate Faces Forgery Charges

A court has issued a warrant of arrest against a candidate in the upcoming Juja parliamentary by-election accused of forging academic papers.

This turns the spotlight once again on politicians battling cases relating to questionable educational credentials.

Mr George Koimburi, who is vying for the seat on a Peoples Empowerment Party ticket, is wanted after he failed to show up at the Kiambu Law Courts on Wednesday, April 14 to answer to the charges.

The suspect faces three counts of forgery with regard to certificates purportedly issued by the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

He is accused of forging a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and a bachelor's degree certificate.

According to the charge sheet, between November and December 1994, with intent to deceive, he forged a Knec certificate serial number 2015684.

In count two, Mr Koimburi is accused that between September 2011 and April 2012, he forged a JKUAT certificate serial number JKU/KENET/EI/2011-2012/c6.

In count three, he is accused of forging a JKUAT academic excellence certificate between 2011 and 2012.

After he failed to appear in court to take plea, the investigating officer was directed by Kiambu Chief Magistrate Patricia Gichohi to arrest the accused and present him in court on April 26.

Withdraw from race

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on April 7 published the name of Mr Koimburi among 11 candidates nominated to vie for the seat that fell vacant following the death of Francis Waititu, popularly known as Wakapee.

Mr Koimburi had unsuccessfully vied for the Juja parliamentary seat in 2017 on a Farmers Party ticket. He came second in the election in which Mr Waititu was re-elected. In 2013, Mr Koimburi was unsuccessful in his bid for the Theta ward rep seat.

To contest the Juja parliamentary by-election, which is scheduled for May 18, Mr Koimburi ditched Jubilee and joined the Peoples Empowerment Party, which is linked to Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

The late Wakapee's widow, Ms Susan Njeri, is the Jubilee candidate.

Mr Koimburi recently told the Nation he was under pressure to withdraw from the race.

"I am being intimidated daily together with my campaigners that we should step down and support the Jubilee Party candidate in the upcoming Juja by-election. I want to tell them that we are going all the way to the ballot and there is no turning back," Mr Koimburi said.

Koimburi joins a long list of politicians fighting claims of dubious papers.

Taita-Taveta governor Granton Samboja and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi are facing integrity issues relating to the academic qualifications they used to vie for their respective political seats.

They are among leaders flagged by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as having integrity questions in a list it presented to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) prior to the 2013 and 2017 elections.

Fraudulently obtained certificates

Mr Sudi, who is facing criminal trial at the anti-corruption court in Milimani, Nairobi, recently suffered a blow after the court declined his request to cross-examine one of the three voters who sued him for allegedly forging his academic documents so as to be cleared by the IEBC.

The second-term MP wanted the High Court to grant him an opportunity to question Mr Dan Njuguna Ngugi on the source of allegations that his secondary school and college certificates were obtained fraudulently.

Mr Sudi wanted the court to summon Mr Njuguna for cross-examination on facts contained in the petition he filed together with Mr Paul Kipkemboi Ng'isirei and Mr Joseph Kipuchumba Kitur in May 2017.

The petitioners claim the MP fraudulently obtained a secondary school leaving certificate as well as a KCSE results certificate from Highway Secondary School and Knec.

The claimants say the sole purpose of the fraud was to hoodwink the IEBC to clear him to contest the Kapseret Constituency seat in the 2017 General Election.

Court documents further indicate Sudi's (Diploma in Business Management) college certificate from the Kenya Institute of Management (KIMS) is also fake.

Mr John Masheshe, an investigator, told the court that a registration number appearing on Mr Sudi's certificate belongs to another student.

The investigator said the school code appearing on the MP's KCSE certificate belonged to Parklands Secondary School and not Highway Secondary School.

Academic credentials

Court papers indicate the MP attended Highway Secondary School in Nairobi between 2003 and 2006.

The petitioners say the MP in his statement with the EACC indicated he joined Highway Secondary School in 2004 and concluded his studies in 2005, when he sat for his KCSE exams, and that in 2006 he joined the Kenya Institute of Management to study for a Diploma in Business Management.

Mr Sudi wanted to cross-examine the petitioner on the grounds that he did not disclose the source of the information that led him to dispute the authenticity of the documents presented by Mr Sudi.

But Justice James Makau declined the request, saying the petitioner's averments were reaffirmed by the EACC as an investigating agency and Knec, the custodian of KCSE certificates pursuant to Section 10 of the KNEC Act.

Governor Samboja is also embattled after rights activist Okiya Omtatah revived a case earlier filed by the EACC challenging the authenticity of his academic credentials.

The governor is accused of forging a university certificate and using it to contest the 2017 elections. Last month, the governor got a reprieve after the High Court in Nairobi dismissed a petition filed by the EACC seeking a declaration that he was ineligible to vie for the Taita-Taveta governor's seat on account of his academic qualifications.

But Mr Omtatah revived the case and wants the court to issue orders quashing the governor's academic credentials.

Mr Omtatah says after perusing the dismissed case, he learned that though Mr Samboja was cleared by the polls agency to vie for the gubernatorial seat, the EACC had flagged his academic documents as falsified.

Forged certificates

The activist says, in a report forwarded on May 30, 2017 to the Chairman of the IEBC on integrity of candidates seeking elective positions in the 2017 General Election, the EACC stated Mr Samboja had falsified a diploma certificate, degree certificate and KCSE result slip.

He claims the EACC had also stated Mr Samboja presented forged certificates for enrolment for a master's programme at Kenyatta University.

"It is also on the court record that, during investigations into the matter, Kenyatta University informed the EACC that Samboja was not a student of Kenyatta University for his undergraduate studies. The impugned certificates were fakes," says the activist in the case.

During the hearing of an election petition against Governor Samboja's election, Kenyatta University said no one by Samboja's name earned the alleged degree certificate at the institution.

Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu is also among leaders facing claims of questionable academic credentials.

A petition filed by his predecessor, Mr William Kabogo, indicates Mr Waititu's degree from Punjab University India was fake.

Mr Kabogo claimed Waititu is not the Clifford Ndung'u Waititu named in his academic papers. He said Waititu changed his name to acquire all academic papers needed to vie for governorship.

He said Ferdinand Ndung'u Waititu, whose birth was registered on January 4, 1980, cannot be the same person as Clifford, who sat CPE at Mbagathi Primary School in 1975.

Leadership and integrity

But Waititu maintains he was at Punjab University, SGGS College, from 1985 to 1988, when he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Second Class Honours, Upper Division.

In the case that is pending determination at the Court of Appeal, Mr Kabogo wants a declaration that Waititu is not qualified to hold a public office in Kenya and that he (Waititu) is consequently ineligible to run for any elective office.

Lawyer Issa Mansour for Mr Kabogo told the court his client is only seeking to enforce the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution on leadership and integrity and suitability to hold public office.

Mr Kabogo wants the judges to set aside a ruling made by Justice Joseph Onguto that the High Court had no jurisdiction to determine the questions he raised against Mr Waititu.

The questions involved Mr Waititu's leadership, integrity and eligibility to hold a public office.

Justice Onguto in his decision dated December 7, 2016 also directed Mr Kabogo to pay Mr Waititu financial expenses related to the lawsuit, which amounted to Sh5.3 million.

In the disputed ruling, the judge allowed a preliminary objection filed by Mr Waititu challenging the court's jurisdiction to entertain the petition.

"Issues of integrity could be dogging Waititu but it is not for this court to determine whether the issues are well founded," stated the judge while referring Mr Kabogo to appropriate alternative forums.

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