The Abuja Appeal Court, on Sunday, November 19, invalidated Caleb Mutfwang’s election as Plateau State Governor.
Led by Justice Okong Abang, the unanimous judgment mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to revoke Mutfwang’s Certificate of Return and grant it to Nentawe Yiltwatda, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate.
This ruling follows the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal’s dismissal of Nentawe’s petition challenging Mutfwang’s election.
The Appeal Court deemed the Tribunal’s judgment erroneous, citing that the appellants had the right to contest the election’s conduct. Justice Williams-Dawodu overturned the Tribunal’s decision, criticizing it as significantly incompetent.
The court highlighted that the Tribunal’s dismissal of the APC’s petition on the basis of their involvement in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was against constitutional provisions (Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 134 (C) of the Electoral Act).
Furthermore, it clarified that the issues raised by the appellants encompassed both pre-election and post-election matters, refuting the Tribunal’s view that they were solely pre-election matters and therefore not admissible.
Referring to Section 177 of the Constitution, the panel noted the PDP’s failure to validly sponsor Mutfwang during the election. The court criticized the party for violating a court order that required a valid congress in all 17 local government areas of the state, holding that conducting congress in only five areas rendered it null and void.