The Appeal Court in Abuja has sacked the Plateau State Governor, Caleb Muftwang, and declared Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election.
It has been reported that a three-member panel, in a unanimous decision on Sunday, held that Muftwang was not validly sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as provided by Section 285(2) of the Nigerian Constitution.
Recall that Mutfwang polled 525,299 votes in the March 18 governorship election in the state, while Goshwe polled 481,370 votes.
Goshwe challenged the victory of Mutfwang at the tribunal, claiming that the governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by his Party, insisting there was non-compliance with the Electoral Act in the election.
In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of the tribunal headed by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
Displeased with the judgment, the APC candidate appealed the tribunal judgment.
The appellate court ruling on Sunday, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, held that the PDP did not validly sponsor the governor during the election.
She held that the Party violated a court order to conduct a valid Congress in that state’s 17 Local Government Areas.
She said there was no evidence that the PDP complied with a subsisting High Court order which had directed it to conduct a valid party congress before sponsoring the governorship and other candidates.
The court held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the tribunal’s findings, 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 requirements to do so.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Mutfwang.