By Charles Etukuri
The Commission for University Education (CUE) in Kenya on Wednesday, June 15, revoked the recognition of Senator Johnson Sakaja’s degree from Team, Uganda, saying further investigations were needed to verify its validity.
A letter from the commission dated June 14, 2022, says it has received material information about the authenticity of the bachelor of science in management degree.
The commission said the degree will further be investigated to ascertain its validity.
“Consequently, in accordance with the CUE recognition procedures, we hereby revoke the recognition of your degree from the aforementioned university,” CUE chairman Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha said.
Sakaja, who is one of the aspirants for the governorship position, was being probed over a controversial degree he acquired from Team, a private Ugandan university and used it for clearance.
The move to revoke Sakaja’s qualification comes in the wake of four petitions that seek to bar him from the city’s gubernatorial race in the general elections due to be conducted on August 9, 2022.
At the centre of the allegations is Team University, a private university licensed by the National Council for Higher Education (NHCE) located in Mengo in Rubaga Division.
The investigations also came in the wake of inconsistencies over what Sakaja said in the past about the institution he attended for his undergraduate course.
In a video uploaded on social media on September 22, 2020, Sakaja said he has never pursued education out of the country.
But nearly two years after the interview, Sakaja was cleared to vie for the Nairobi governor seat with a degree certificate from a Ugandan institution, Team University, which indicated that he graduated from in 2016.
It is this that has prompted the petition. A copy of Team University’s graduation book accessed by the New Vision indicates that Sakaja was not one of its students that graduated in 2016.
In that same year, the university graduated only six students, including Hellen Among Naima, Inotu Anna Grace, George Muzoora, Harriet Nayiise Nansamba, Joshua Nkosi and Henry Muwanga.
John Makanga, an official of the university, declined to comment on the matter and referred us to the vice-chancellor’s office.
Efforts to get through proved futile. However, a staff in the office confirmed they had responded to the queries from Kenya, indicating Sakaja was an online student.
The staff could not, however, explain why if Sakaja was an online student, his name didn’t appear in the graduation booklet.
The petitioners wanted Sakaja to submit the evidence that the complainants had asked for after he claimed that he graduated from Team University and that someone omitted his name from the graduation booklet.
Some of the items they are asking for include; proof of payment of tuition fee, admission letter, course work, graduation photo, names of lectures, exam transcripts, clearance form and proof being sent to him.
They also want Sakaja to name any of his coursemates.
A degree is a mandatory requirement for anyone seeking a governor seat in Kenya.
In a petition challenging Sakaja’s clearance submitted to the IEBC, Kenyan media said Alex Musalia argued that the senator had not satisfied the requirements of the law as it was not clear how he completed his degree studies abroad while serving as MP full-time.
He says the circumstances under which the degree was accredited shortly before the submission of his papers to IEBC were suspect.
While asking the tribunal to dismiss the complaint against him, Sakaja argues that the allegations that he did not graduate from Team University are unfounded, saying there are other pages of the graduation list that were omitted that bear his credentials.
Sakaja said he graduated, but his opponents omitted his name from the graduation booklet for selfish reasons.
In an affidavit, the Nairobi senator claimed the complainants left out a page showing his name on the graduation list of the university, which is located in Uganda.
“For nefarious goals, the complainants have fraudulently omitted relevant pages of the graduation booklet that bear my graduation credentials,” Sakaja said.
“The personalised vendetta and smear campaign against me by the complainants is unworthy of response, save to point out that the same is absolutely reckless and in absolute abuse of legal process,” he added.
Sakaja dismissed as fatally defective complaints challenging his nomination and clearance to contest.
This is not the first time a Ugandan degree awarded to a politician from some of the local private universities has been challenged.
In 2014, a committee set up to authenticate a degree awarded by a Ugandan university to a Kenyan politician recommended that the award be withdrawn.
The committee also recommended that an investigation be carried out on all students who graduated from the same university on the same day.
In the report submitted to the NCHE, the Director Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), said NCHE should analyse the assembled evidence to enable it form an opinion as to whether the politician passed through the due process to attain a bachelor of business administration degree of Kampala University.