The Appeal Court in Abuja has delivered a landmark ruling, ousting Caleb Mutfwang from his position as the Governor of Plateau State. The lead Justice, Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Nentawe Goshwe, the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
This decision overturns the judgment of the Tribunal which had previously affirmed Governor Mutfwang’s election. The Tribunal’s dismissal of the petition filed by the APC and its candidate was deemed a breach of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 134 (C) of the Electoral Act. The court found that the issues raised were both pre-election and post-election matters and were not status-barred.
The panel cited Section 177 of the Constitution, noting that Mutfwang was not validly sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the election. The PDP had violated a court order to conduct valid congresses in the 17 local government areas of the state, having conducted them in only five areas, rendering the process null.
The court also emphasized that under Section 134 of the Electoral Act, it is the sole right of a political party to sponsor its candidate, provided they meet the requirements. Consequently, the court ordered INEC to retrieve the certificate of return issued to Governor Mutfwang and issue a fresh certificate to Goshwe.
Justice Okon Abang, concurring with the judgment, remarked that unless the PDP resolves its internal issues in Plateau State, it would continue to suffer from self-inflicted misfortunes.
The recent decision by the Appeal Court to sack Caleb Mutfwang as the Governor of Plateau State and replace him with Nentawe Goshwe of the APC is a significant development in Nigeria’s political landscape. At Yohaig NG, we view this as a pivotal moment that underscores the importance of adhering to legal and constitutional processes in the political arena.
This ruling not only alters the political dynamics in Plateau State but also serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s role in upholding the rule of law and ensuring the integrity of electoral processes. The court’s insistence on compliance with the constitutional provisions for valid sponsorship by political parties highlights the need for political parties to adhere strictly to legal frameworks and internal democratic processes.
However, this development also raises concerns about the stability of governance and the potential implications for the people of Plateau State. The sudden change in leadership might bring about policy shifts and administrative adjustments, which could affect ongoing projects and initiatives in the state.
While the court’s decision is a testament to the strength of Nigeria’s democratic institutions, it also calls for a reflection on the internal mechanisms of political parties and their adherence to democratic principles. Political parties must ensure that their internal processes are transparent, democratic, and in line with legal requirements to prevent such upheavals in the future.
Did You Know?
- Judicial Review in Nigeria: The Nigerian judiciary has the power to review the actions of other branches of government, including election results.
- Electoral Laws and Processes: Nigeria’s electoral laws and processes are complex, with specific provisions for candidate sponsorship and election conduct.
- Political Party Dynamics: Internal dynamics and disputes within political parties often have significant implications for Nigerian politics.
- Impact of Court Rulings on Governance: Court rulings on electoral disputes can lead to significant changes in governance and policy direction.
- Role of INEC: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) plays a crucial role in overseeing elections and implementing court orders related to electoral matters.