Wajir Governor Mohamed Abdi on Friday became the first casualty among county chiefs to lose his seat in an election petition.
Justice Alfred Mabeya ruled that Abdi (JP) was not validly elected because he did not have a valid degree certificate as required by law. He said Abdi — a former ambassador — failed to prove he had obtained a degree from Kampala University, as he had claimed.
Regarding a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations Abdi said he had, Mabeya said that as at September 3, 2014, he had not graduated with any degree and “one cannot obtain a Master‘s degree before obtaining a Bachelor’s one”.
“As at August 8, 2017, the first respondent did not have the academic qualification to vie for the position of governor. He was, therefore, not legally cleared to vie for that position, as he did not satisfy the provisions of the Elections Act,” Mabeya said, agreeing with NASA’s Ahmed Abdullahi and Ahmed Muhumud — the two petitioners — that irregularities committed in the election were so grave they undermined the credibility and results of the polls, hence they could not be said to have been conducted competently.
Mabeya said the evidence tabled before the court on claims of irregularities on the face of forms 37A, 37B and 37C was so overwhelming and that the principle of the secrecy of the ballot was violated.
The IEBC employed incompetent officers, whose conduct made the election unverifiable, he said.
“Because of the irregularities committed by the electoral agency and its returning officer, the election could not be verified,” he said.
The judge found IEBC officials guilty of the irregularities and the governor culpable of misconduct, having presented himself as candidate when he knew he was not suitable to contest.
Abdi had claimed he obtained a degree in March 2012, yet his name was missing from that year’s list of graduands. Minutes produced in court to support the petition showed that during vetting for the position of ambassador in September 2014, he admitted he had not acquired a degree by then.
Justice Mabeya ordered the IEBC and the politician to jointly bear the costs of Sh2 million. The court noted that a huge number of voters in Wajir are illiterate and were assisted to vote. He said it was, however, wrong for presiding officers to ask voters to shout the names of their preferred candidates. This compromised the voting, given the interclan rivalry, he said.
A scrutiny revealed that many forms were not genuine. Some did not have watermarks — others were photocopies or printouts. The IEBC did not produce original forms. Mabeya ordered the IEBC to hold a by-election in accordance with the Constitution and election laws.