In a judgment a moment ago, a three-member panel of the court, led by Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mutfwang and issued a fresh one to Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who the court declared as the valid winner of the March 18 governorship election.
Justice Williams-Dawodu, in the lead judgment, set aside the decision of the Governorship Election Petition Election, which had dismissed the petition of the APC and its candidate.
The judge held that Mutfwang was not validly sponsored by the PDP and that he was not qualified to have contested the election because the PDP did not conduct valid state, Local Government and Ward congresses ordered by a High Court of Plateau State and it had no structure as at the time of the election
The judgment on Sunday was on the appeal filed by the APC and Goshwe against the September 22 decision of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which had dismissed their petition and affirmed the PDP candidate’s election.
Justice Williams-Dawodu held there was no evidence that the PDP complied with a subsisting High Court order which had directed it to conduct a valid party congress prior to its sponsorship of the governorship and other candidates.
She further held that the issue was not about nomination or sponsorship but disobedience to a subsisting court order which had not been set aside.
Justice Williams-Dawodu noted that the tribunal was “highly inconsistent,” and “perversely” dismissed the petition against the governor following the invalid state congress of the PDP.
She said: “The appeal is hereby allowed. The issue is resolved in favour of the appellants,” the judge held while ordering that the APC candidate be returned as governor.
“The first petitioner (Goshwe) is perfectly entitled to be returned as governor. INEC is directed to withdraw the certificate of return from Caleb,” she said.
The appellate court, in another judgment upheld the the sack of Hon. Rimvjat Nanbol of the PDP for Langtang Central State Constituency by the National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in a judgment in September.
The Court of Appeal further upheld the tribunal declaration of Hon. Daniel Ninbol Listic of the Labour Party (LP) as winner of the state constituency election.
In the lead judgment read on Sunday by Justice Okon Abang, the court agreed with the tribunal’s finding that the structure of PDP had collapsed after the Plateau State High Court declared in a judgment that the party failed to conduct a valid primary/congress involving delegates from the 17 LGAs of the state.
Justice Abang said: “It is my view that without complying with court orders, there was no party by the name PDP in the election.
“It is a joke taken too far for a political party to disobey an order of court,” the judge said.
He further held that a court of law has jurisdiction to entertain a matter bordering on a political party especially if that party disobeys a subsisting order of a court.
Justice Abang said: “The appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed. The judgment of the tribunal is hereby affirmed.
He added that the LP candidate remains the lawmaker representing the said Constituency at the Plateau House of Assembly.