The Court of Appeal in Abuja has delivered a landmark judgment, ousting Caleb Mutfwang of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor of Plateau State. The three-member panel, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, declared Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful winner of the March 18 governorship election.
Goshwe had contested Mutfwang’s victory at the tribunal, asserting that the PDP governor was not validly nominated and sponsored. The tribunal initially dismissed the petition, but Goshwe, dissatisfied with the ruling, appealed.
In a decisive Sunday judgment, Justice Williams-Dawodu cited Section 177 of the Constitution, ruling that Mutfwang was not validly sponsored by the PDP. The court emphasized the party’s violation of a court order mandating a valid congress in all 17 local government areas of the state.
Additionally, it highlighted the PDP’s non-compliance with a High Court order, which directed a valid party congress before sponsoring candidates.
The court, considering qualification as both a pre-election and post-election matter, contradicted the tribunal’s stance, asserting Goshwe’s right to contest the validity of Mutfwang’s sponsorship. Underlining Section 134 of the Electoral Act, it affirmed a political party’s exclusive right to sponsor candidates after meeting the requirements.
Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was ordered to retract the Certificate of Return issued to Mutfwang and issue a fresh certificate to Goshwe.
In a parallel development, the Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of Rimvjat Nanbol, a PDP lawmaker representing Langtang Central State Constituency. The tribunal had earlier declared Daniel Listic of the Labour Party as the rightful winner, emphasizing the jurisdiction of the court to intervene in a political party’s internal affairs regarding qualification and sponsorship issues.
The ruling has reshaped the political landscape in Plateau State, prompting reactions and setting the stage for potential legal and political ramifications.
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