The Court of Appeal in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, has nullified the election of Caleb Muftwang as the governor of Plateau State and ordered that Nentawe Yilwatda of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be sworn in as the rightful winner of the 2023 Plateau Governorship election.
A three-member panel, in a unanimous decision on Sunday, held that Muftwang was not validly sponsored by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as provided by Section 285(2) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The panel agreed with the appellant, Goshwe, that the PDP’s failure to adhere to the Plateau State High Court’s order in suit no: PLD/J304/2020 and the Court of Appeal order in CA/J1/93/2021 constituted a breach of law. This required the PDP to conduct valid ward, local government, and state congresses before nominating candidates for various elective positions.
Consequently, the panel nullified the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal’s judgment, deeming it “highly inconsistent” and a violation of fair hearing due to its reliance on expunged witness statements to dismiss Goshwe’s appeal.
Muftwang, who had challenged the tribunal’s ruling, has the option of appealing to the Supreme Court. The Appeal Court’s decision comes amid a series of legal battles over the outcome of the 2023 governorship elections in several states.
Just two days ago, the Appeal Court also sacked the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf, and affirmed the victory of the APC candidate, Abdullahi Ganduje.
The Plateau and Kano cases are among the most contentious and closely watched governorship elections in Nigeria, as they involve two of the most populous and politically influential states in the country.
The Appeal Court’s rulings have significant implications for the balance of power and the future of democracy in Nigeria.