Barr. Caleb Mutfwang, the governor of Plateau State, filed an appeal to challenge the Court of Appeal’s nullification of his election, and the Supreme Court reserved its decision on Tuesday.

Following the parties’ oral arguments and adoption of their respective procedures, the appeal for judgement was adjourned by a five-member panel of the highest court, presided over by Justice Inyang Okoro.

Governor Mutfwang petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the Court of Appeal in Abuja’s decision to remove him from office, backed by a group of attorneys led by Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

He contended that, in contrast to the appellate court’s ruling, the Plateau State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal accepted numerous exhibits as evidence, demonstrating his legitimate nomination by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to run in the March 18 gubernatorial election.

Agabi, SAN, asserted that the petition against the results of the governorship election filed by All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Mr. Nentawe Goshwe was dismissed as unmeritorious after the tribunal duly considered both documentary and oral evidence presented by the parties.

He maintained that the appeal court had dismissed his client from his position on the false grounds that PDP had not complied properly with a High Court directive requiring it to hold congresses in order to elect its State Executives.

According to Agabi, SAN, the National Executive organ of the PDP is responsible for holding a primary election in order to choose candidates who will be sponsored in an election, notwithstanding any evidence that may be presented to demonstrate that the aforementioned sequence was followed.

“A number of exhibits were tendered to prove that valid Congress was conducted and monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

“A video was played before the tribunal showing that congresses held and the person that instituted the court action was see in the video, participating in the process,” Agabi told the apex court.

He further argued that the sponsorship and nomination of a candidate in an election, being a pre-election issue, was outside the scope of jurisdiction of both the tribunal and the appellate court.

“More so my lords, the issue of disobedience to court order is not within the purview of section 177 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, relating to the issue of qualification of a candidate to stand an election.

“Invalid nomination and sponsorship of a candidate by a political party is not one of the grounds upon which a petition could be lodged before a tribunal.

“Their whole petition was based on the issue of nomination and sponsorship.

“While the tribunal held that it lacked jurisdiction over that matter, the Court of Appeal said the issue also related to qualification of the candidate.

“We are here because it seems to us that the Appeal Court departed from your precedent which is that the issue of nomination and sponsorship is a pre-election matter,” Agabi added.

He further argued that the APC candidate’s appeal contained contradictory claims, stating that the poll was illegal overall due to noncompliance with the law while simultaneously pleading to be recognised the victor of the same election.

Agabi consequently implored the Supreme Court to grant the appeal and uphold the three-member panel’s unanimous ruling that rejected the APC and its candidate’s plea.

In the meantime, the APC candidate asked the court to sustain the Court of Appeal’s ruling, which directed the INEC to award him a Certificate of Return as the winner of the most valid votes cast in the gubernatorial election, through his own group of solicitors led by Prof. Joseph Olatoke, SAN.

He contended that the PDP was no longer able to field a legitimate candidate for governor of Plateau State since it had refused to elect its State Executives as the court had mandated.

Similarly, Mr. Omosanya Popoola, the APC’s attorney, pleaded with the supreme court to sustain the decision that removed the appellant from office.

The separate appeal that INEC had filed to contest the Court of Appeal’s ruling against Mutfwang was withdrawn by the organisation, represented by Mr. S. Atung, SAN, and was subsequently dismissed.

The panel stated that all parties would be informed of the judgement date after hearing from all of them.


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