The Supreme Court has kept judgment pending in the appeal aimed at overturning the removal of Caleb Mutfwang as the governor of Plateau state. The Court of Appeal in Abuja had, on November 19, nullified Mutfwang’s governorship.
After the parties presented their arguments on Tuesday, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court, headed by John Okoro, disclosed that the judgment date would be communicated to the involved parties.
In the initial election results announced by Idris Amali, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer in Plateau, on March 20, Mutfwang emerged as the winner with 525,299 votes, while Nentawe Yilwatda, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), secured 481,370 votes.
The results indicated that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) triumphed in 10 LGAs, including Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Langtang North, Langtang South, Riyom, Mikang, Mangu, Jos East, Qua’an Pan, and Pokkos.
Unsatisfied with the results, Yilwatda and the APC filed a petition contesting the election outcome.
Rita Irele-Ifijeh, leading the tribunal, declared that the issues raised by the petitioners regarding party structure were pre-election matters. The tribunal held that Yilwatda and the APC lacked the legal standing to challenge it.
Furthermore, the tribunal emphasized that the PDP conducted a repeat congress on September 25, 2021, complying with the order of a Jos high court. This court order was delivered by S.P. Gang, the judge.
Displeased with the tribunal’s decision, the APC and its candidate filed an appeal.
The appellate court’s panel asserted that the PDP violated the court order for a valid congress in all 17 LGAs of Plateau, as it conducted it only in five LGAs, rendering it invalid.
While dismissing the tribunal’s decision, the court of appeal maintained that the issue of qualification involves both pre-election and post-election matters. This contradicted the panel’s conclusion that the appellant lacked the legal standing to challenge the validity of the respondent.
During Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing, Kanu Agabi, Mutfwang’s counsel, urged the court to nullify the appellate court’s judgment, arguing that the raised issues were pre-election matters.
The Supreme Court is anticipated to deliver its judgment before January 16.