Although controversial and still unwelcome by many, the Supreme Court overturned decisions of High Court and Court of Appeal nullifying the election of Wajir Governor Mohammed Abdi Mohamud.
The ruling was the outcome of a split vote with four judges ruling in the governor’s favour while two dissented.
Chief Justice David Maraga and Justice Issac Lenaola, however, dissented saying that they were of the opinion that the governor did not have prerequisite academic qualifications to vie for governor.
Governor Mohamed Abdi lost the first round of the war in the High Court in a petition lodged by his predecessor and rival in the election, Ahmed Abdullahi.
High Court Judge Alfred Mabeya sitting in Nairobi, found that Mr Abdi did not have a university degree and the election was marred with irregularities.
Abdi defended himself saying he has two degrees – one in Business Administration and a Post-graduate degree in International Relations. He claimed to have graduated from University of Kampala.However, Abdi failed to appear in court to rebut the petitioner’s claims.
“Abdi was not validly elected to the position of Governor and his election is hereby declared null and void,” Judge Mabeya had ruled.
Governor Abdi then moved to the Court of Appeal. Even there, a contested graduation list killed his case.The Appellate court upheld the High Court’s decision to annul the governor’s election after he failed to appear before High Court judge Alfred Mabeya to defend the validity of his academic certificates.
Three Appellate judges Philip Waki, Asike Makhandia and Patrick Kiage ruled that Abdi’s failure to appear before Justice Mabeya to give his evidence made his opponents’ case stronger.
In the 56-page judgment, the judges said the High Court decision stood because Abdi did not qualify to vie and was validly elected.
Governor Mohamed Abdi, a former ambassador then moved to the Supreme Court to save his election.Here, he was allowed to table evidence that he held the requisite academic qualifications to contest the governorship.