By John Masaba
The National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) could be dragged into heated legal battles in the coming few days with a Kenyan NGO over a degree awarded last year to a Kenyan politician.
Youth Leadership for Democratic Governance and Guidance has threatened to sue NCHE for ignoring its advice to cancel Hassan Ali Joho’s Bachelor of Business Administration degree which they allege is fake.
Joho is the current governor of Mombasa County under the opposition Orange Democratic Party.
The degree in question was awarded by Kampala University in February last year. However, just days after receiving the degree, rumor started swirling around in Kenya that Joho had fraudulently acquired it.
In a letter dated January 28, which NCHE acknowledged receipt of on January 31, the NGO’s lawyers Gikandi & Co Advocates has given NICHE five days to clarify on their position on Joho’s degree or face off in court.
In the letter, the NGO accuses NCHE of ignoring the overwhelming evidence they had earlier submitted to them in which they pointed out the irregularities in Joho’s degree.
“We regret that to-date our client has not received any response from the council’s resolution and expeditious handling of the said matter. Our instructions are to notify you as we hereby do that we are under firm instructions to take the necessary action if we fail to receive any response from within five days,” read the letter.
The letter was also copied to NCHE’s chairman Quality Assurance Committee, Reverend Dr. John Senyonyi.
When New Vision contacted NCHE’s chairman Professor Pen Nyeko Mogi, to whom the letter was addressed, he declined to give a comment. “How does a letter addressed to me reach you (the press)? I am not willing to discuss matters leaked to the press,” he said.
Dr. Senyonyi was reportedly outside the country. However, NCHE’s executive director, Prof. Opuda Asibo, denied seeing the letter.
But commenting about development, he said: “The council did its work. We were convinced Kampala University had that student [Joho] and as such the degree awarded to him is valid.”
He noted that suing NCHE would be a waste of time because they don’t award any degrees.
The intention to sue comes after NCHE made a U-turn last year and cleared Joho of any wrong doing.
The council had earlier on December 5 written to Police to investigate the Kenyan governor with intent to have him persecuted for forgery.
Later, however, NCHE rescinded its earlier action, saying they had made a mistake.
The NGO contends that they have evidence that as of 2009 when Joho is alleged to have joined Kampala University, Business Administration was not one of the courses the university had been licensed by NCHE to offer.
Kampala University owner, Professor Badru Katerega, however, dismissed claims by the NGO saying they are fighting a losing battle.
“Because they have lost the battle in Kenya they have resorted to harassing us and our student. The truth is NCHE did investigate the matter and concluded that there was no wrongdoing,” he said.
He said the NGO is being used by another Kenyan politician to harass their former student.
“We know them. They are working for Shahbal Sulaiman who lost political office (of governor for Mombasa) against our former student [Joho].
“They recently also lost a case in the Kenyan High Court to have him removed over having inadequate academic. They have now resorted to using Ugandan police to harass us but the truth will come out,” he said.
Katerega blamed Police for ignoring this and instead choosing to harass the university which he said was affecting their operations.
He claimed that the NGO came to Uganda and convinced the president that they were dishing out fake documents, forcing the president to ask CIID Boss Grace Akullo to investigate the university.
“We have suffered a lot under CIID. Some our staff are always in fear. For the last one year they have come and arrested our staff, but the truth will come out.”