The Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, has been sacked by the Appeal Court in Abuja.
Lead Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, in her ruling on Sunday, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Nentawe Goshwe, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Justice Williams-Dawodu set aside the judgment of the Tribunal, which affirmed the election of Governor Mutfwang, deeming it highly incompetent.
The court criticized the tribunal’s dismissal of the APC’s petition, stating that the party and its candidate had the right to challenge Mutfwang’s election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Contrary to the tribunal’s decision categorizing the issues as pre-election matters, the Appeal Court asserted that they were both pre-election and post-election matters, not subject to status bar.
Citing Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 134 (C) of the Electoral Act, the panel noted that Mutfwang was not validly sponsored by the PDP during the election.
The court held that the PDP violated the court order mandating a valid congress in all 17 local government areas of the state by only conducting it in five, rendering it null and void.
Dismissing the Plateau State Election Petitions Tribunal’s decision, the court emphasized that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and post-election matter.
Under Section 134 of the Electoral Act, the court stressed that it is the sole right of a political party to sponsor its candidate, having met the necessary requirements. Citing Section 136 of the Electoral Act, the court ordered INEC to retrieve the certificate of return issued to Governor Mutfwang and issue a fresh one to Goshwe.
Justice Okon Abang, concurring with the judgment, warned that unless the PDP resolves its issues in Plateau State, it would continually suffer self-inflicted misfortune.