Written by on November 19, 2023

The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has sacked Caleb Mutfwang of the People’s Democratic Party and ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission recognize Manasseh Goshwe of the All Progressive Congress as the validly elected governor of Plateau state in the March 18 governorship election.

Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu who led a three-man panel while delivering the lead judgment cited section 177 of the Constitution, noting that Manasseh was not validly sponsored by the PDP during the election.

The panel held that the party violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of that state by conducting congress in only 5 local government areas, and as such is a nullity.

The court while dismissing the decision of Plateau state tribunal held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the findings of tribunal which held that the appellant lacked the locus to contest the validity of the respondent.

The court also noted that under section 134 of the electoral act it is the sole right of a political party to sponsor its candidate having met the necessary requirements to do so.

While evoking section 136 of the electoral act, the court ordered INEC to retrieve the certificate of return issued to Governor Mutfwang and issue a fresh certificate of return to Goshwe.

Goshwe had challenged the election of Mutfwang at the tribunal claiming that the governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by his Party.

However, a three-member panel of the tribunal headed by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.

Not satisfied with the tribunal judgment, the APC candidate approached the appellate court challenging the decision.

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