The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has sacked the Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang, and declared Nentanwe Yilwatda Goshwe of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the duly elected Governor of Plateau State.
In her ruling on Sunday, the lead Justice, Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to the candidate of Goshwe.
Justice Williams-Dawodu set aside the judgment of the Tribunal which affirmed the election of Governor Mutfwang, describing it as highly incompetent.
Tribunal decision in breach of constitution
According to the court, the decision of the tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by the APC and its candidate on the ground that the duo had no business meddling in the affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on which platform Mutfwang was elected is in breach of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 134 (C) of the Electoral Act.
The court also held that contrary to the decision of the tribunal that the issues contained in the petition filed by the appellants were pre-election matters, they were both pre-election and post-election matters and could not have been deemed status barred.
Sacked governor not validly sponsored
In its unanimous judgment on Sunday, the 3-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, citing Section 177 of the Constitution, noted that the governor was not validly sponsored by the PDP for the election.
It 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 five local government areas of the state, and as such is a nullity.
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 prior to its sponsorship of the governorship and other candidates.
While dismissing the decision of Plateau State Election Petitions Tribunal, the court held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the findings of the 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 the Goshwe.