The Court of Appeal in Abuja has issued a judgment on Sunday, ousting Mutfwang Manasseh, the governor of Plateau State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognize Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the duly elected governor in the March 18 governorship election.
Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, leading a three-man panel, delivered the lead judgment, citing section 177 of the Constitution. The court found that Manasseh was not a validly sponsored candidate by the PDP during the election. The panel emphasized that the PDP violated a court order mandating a valid Congress to be conducted in all 17 local government areas of the state, as it only conducted Congress in five local government areas, rendering it null and void.
The court dismissed the decision of the Plateau State tribunal, noting that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter, contrary to the tribunal’s findings that the appellant lacked the locus to contest the validity of the respondent’s nomination. The court also highlighted that, according to section 134 of the Electoral Act, it is the sole prerogative of a political party to sponsor its candidate after meeting the necessary requirements.
Invoking section 136 of the Electoral Act, the court ordered INEC to retrieve the certificate of return issued to Governor Manasseh and issue a fresh certificate of return to Goshwe.