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BREAKING: Muftwang loses Plateau governorship seat to APC at Appeal Court

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BREAKING: Muftwang loses Plateau governorship seat to APC at Appeal Court

Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State

Published By: Ayorinde Oluokun

Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State on Sunday became the latest governor to be removed from office by the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court sitting in Abuja in a unanimous judgment sacked Muftwang after the three- member panel agreeing with the appellant that he was not validly nominated for the 18 March governorship election by his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Contrary to the argument of the Governor’s lawyers, the panel asserted that the issue of qualification was both a pre and post election matter under Section 177(c) of the Nigerian Constitution,1999 and Section 80 and 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Specifically, the panel said the failure of the PDP to comply with the 2020 order of the Plateau State High Court directing it to conduct valid ward, local governments and state congresses before nominating its candidates for the various elective posts and the Court of Appeal order in CA/J1/93/2021 was a breach of the law.

The Court, in the lead judgement, by Justice Williams-Dawodu, therefore ruled that the disobedience of the court order means that the PDP has no valid structure that can nominate a candidate for the election as it did in the 2023 general elections.

The Appeal Court therefore ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Muftwang and issue a fresh one to Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the valid winner of the election.

Mutfwang polled 525,299 votes to defeat Yilwatda who polled 481,370 votes in the election.

However, the APC candidate had challenged the victory of the Muftwang at the tribunal, alleging among others that he was not qualified to contest the election because he was not validly sponsored and nominated by his political party, the PDP

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The APC candidate said PDP lacked structure and was not qualified to sponsor any candidate in an election and the the election was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act

But a three-member panel of a tribunal headed by Justice Rita Irele-Ifijeh, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the APC’s candidate’s petition, describing it as lacking in merit.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Goshwe headed to the Court of Appeal where his lawyers argued, among others that Mutfwang was not qualified to contest the election by a lack of valid sponsorship by a political party, contrary to section 177 (C) of the 1999 Constitution.

The lawyers to the APC candidate therefore asked the Appeal Court panel to declare votes polled by Mutfwang in the March 18 election as wasted and to declare Mr. Goshwe the winner of the election.

But lawyers to Mutfwang argued that the issue of nomination and sponsorship of a candidate for election was an internal party affair which the court has no jurisdiction over.

The tribunal and the Court of Appeal had also sacked other elected members of PDP in Plateau over the failure of the party to obey the 2020 order of the Plateau High Court.

*Updated

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