The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Sunday nullified the election victory of Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State, following an appeal by Nentawe Goshwehe, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.
The three-member panel of justices, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, unanimously ruled that Mutfwang was not validly nominated and sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the gubernatorial contest that took place on March 18. The court held that the votes credited to Mutfwang and the PDP were considered wasted votes.
Justice Williams-Dawodu declared, “We order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Mutfwang and swear in the candidate with the second-highest lawful votes.”
The decision stemmed from Goshwe’s appeal challenging Mutfwang’s election results in Plateau , claiming that the PDP lacked the political structure to nominate a valid candidate. Goshwe argued that the election did not comply with the Electoral Act and alleged over-voting.
Initially dissatisfied with the tribunal’s ruling, Goshwe pursued the case at the appellate court, maintaining that Mutfwang lacked the platform and legal qualifications to contest. He also asserted that the election suffered from over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
In response, Mutfwang’s counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, argued that the nomination and sponsorship were internal party matters beyond the court’s jurisdiction. The PDP’s counsel, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, urged the court to dismiss specific grounds of appeal, contending their lack of competence.
The appellate court, composed of Justices Williams-Dawodu, Muhammed Mustapha, and Okon Abang, ultimately upheld Goshwe’s appeal, leading to the nullification of Mutfwang’s election.
This recent decision follows a similar move by the appellate court on November 7, where it ousted a Senator and three House of Representatives members from the state, all from the PDP. The panel cited the PDP’s failure to comply with a court order to conduct congresses in all 17 Local Government Areas in the state, rendering the lawmakers’ victories as wasted votes.