EletiofeSupreme Court Affirms Caleb Muftwang As Plateau Governor

Supreme Court Affirms Caleb Muftwang As Plateau Governor

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Gov Caleb Muftwang has been confirmed by the Supreme Court, as the duly elected governor of Plateau State.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the March governorship election had appealed the ruling of the Court of Appeal which sacked him as governor.

It was earlier reported that the appeal court had in a unanimous decision in November ruled that Muftwang was not sponsored by the PDP.

The court held that Nentawe Yilwada of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the 18 March 2023 governorship election and therefore upheld his appeal.

The ruling of the Court of Appeal prompted Governor Muftwang to approach the Supreme Court.

Justice Emmanuel Agim, on Friday read the judgement.

Justice Agim noted the APC’s contention that the appellant was not qualified to contest the election.

The APC says Governor Mutfwang’s nomination as a candidate and his election were invalid by virtue of non-compliance with the electoral law.

The Court of Appeal held that the primary election that prosuced Governor Mutfwang as the PDP’s candidate and his subsequent nomination to INEC were invalid.

The party said he was not qualified to be Governor of Plateau State, the justice noted in his review of the decision of the appellate court sacking Mutfwang.

Justice Agim, while reading the judgment, held, “We have held in a plethora of cases that the sponsorship of candidate for election is an internal affair of a political party.

“The court of appeal lacks the jurisdiction to determine the validity of the candidacy of the PDP.

“Yilwatda of the APC has no right to challenge the emergence of Governor Mutfwang as a ticket-holder of the PDP.

The Court of Appeal had anchored its decision sacking the governor on the alleged failure of the PDP to comply with an order of the Plateau State High Court to conduct fresh congresses before holding primary elections for nomination of its candidates for the 2023 general elections

But the Supreme Court justice says the order of the High Court had nothing to do with the the party’s power to conduct primaries for the PDP as it did to nominate Governor Mutfwang as its candidate for the governorship election.

The justice ruled that despite that, there is evidence showing that the order of the Plateau State High Court was complied with by the party.

The justice asked, “Can the tribunal and the Court of Appeal determine the validity of the nomination of a candidate?

“The order of the High Court of Plateau State had nothing to do with power of NEC of the PDP; it is a jurisdictional matter.

“The legal profession should wake up, the justice says, adding that, for this reason, this appeal is allowed. The judgement of the Court of Appeal is set aside, inclusive of the orders made therein.

“The judgement of the tribunal is restored. The election of the governor is further restored.”

Justice Okoro in his ruling said, “My only worry is that a lot of people have suffered as a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision. It was absolutely wrong. The appeal is allowed.”

Justices Uwani Abba-Aji, and Helen Ogunwumiju also concur with the lead judgement.

“It was very wrong for the Court of Appeal to go into the issue of party congresses. To make make matters worse, the party challenging the issue is another political party,” Justice Helen Ogunwumiju says.

She adds that the Court of Appeal made a fundamental error by shifting the burden of proof on Governor Mutfwang.

Justice Adamu Jauro agrees with the judgement.

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