The Abuja Court of Appeal has invalidated the election of Governor Caleb Muftwang of Plateau State.
A unanimous decision by a three-member panel on Sunday declared Muftwang’s sponsorship by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) invalid under Section 285(2) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The panel, addressing the appeal brought by Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC), emphasized that the qualification issue fell under both pre and post-election matters as per Section 177(c) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, and Sections 80 and 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
In agreement with the appellant (Goshwe), the panel highlighted the PDP’s non-compliance with the Plateau State High Court’s order in suit no: PLD/J304/2020 and the Court of Appeal order in CA/J1/93/2021. These orders directed the PDP to conduct valid ward, local government, and state congresses before nominating candidates for elective posts.
Consequently, the panel set aside the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal’s judgment, citing its inconsistency and breach of fair hearing by relying on expunged witnesses’ statements to reject Goshwe’s appeal.
The panel’s directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a pivotal moment, emphasizing the paramount importance of adhering to procedural guidelines within electoral processes.
In a definitive decision, the panel has mandated INEC to nullify Muftwang’s certificate of return and, in turn, issue a renewed certificate to Goshwe.
This ruling carries profound implications for the political landscape of Plateau State, as it not only signifies a shift in the outcome of the election but also underscores the broader impact of procedural integrity on shaping the democratic fabric of the region.
The meticulous observance of electoral procedures emerges as a cornerstone in ensuring the legitimacy and fairness of political transitions, setting a precedent for future electoral proceedings in the state.