The court of appeal in Abuja has sacked Mutfwang Manasseh as governor of Plateau state.
Delivering judgment on Sunday, a three-member panel of the court led by Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu held that Manasseh was not validly sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the election.
On March 20, Idris Amali, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returning officer in the Plateau, announced Mutfwang as the winner of the election having scored 525,299 votes, while Nentawe Yilwatda, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) got 481,370 votes.
According to the results, the PDP won in 10 LGAs, including Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Lantang north, Langtang south, Riyom, Mikang, Mangu, Jos East, Qua’an Pan and Pokkos.
Not satisfied with the results, Yilwatda and his party filed a petition challenging the outcome of the election.
Delivering judgment, the tribunal led by Rita Irele-Ifijeh, held that the issues raised by the petitioners on party structure were pre-election matters, noting that Yilwatda and APC lacked the locus standi to challenge it.
The tribunal also held that PDP held a repeat congress on September 25, 2021, in compliance with the order of a Jos high court delivered by S.P. Gang, the judge.
Aggrieved by the tribunal’s judgment, the APC and its candidate filed an appeal.
The appellate court’s panel held that the PDP violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of Plateau.
The court said the party conducted congress in only five local government areas of the state “which amounted to a nullity”.
The court while dismissing the decision of the Plateau state election petition tribunal held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the findings of the panel which held that the appellant lacked the locus to contest the validity of the respondent.
The court also noted that under section 134 of the Electoral Act, it is the sole right of a political party to sponsor its candidate having met the requirements to do so.
While evoking section 136 of the electoral act, the court ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Manasseh.
The court ordered the commission to issue a fresh certificate of return to the APC candidate.
Culled from TheCable