Governor Caleb Mutfwang

On November 19, the appellate court in Abuja ousted Mutfwang from his position as the governor of the state. The court asserted that the PDP had violated a court order and mandated a proper congress to be conducted in all 17 Local Government Areas of Plateau.

The court contended that the party had only organized a congress in five LGAs of the state, rendering it null and void.

However, a five-member panel led by Justice Emmanuel Agim reversed the appellate court’s decision, deeming it perverse as the primary election that led to Mutfwang’s victory fell outside the lower court’s jurisdiction.

The apex court emphasized that the validity of nomination and sponsorship does not provide grounds to annul an election.

Justice Agim asserted that the Court of Appeal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case, highlighting that the issue of sponsorship had lapsed, and the petitioners, not being members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had no standing to challenge the party’s primary election.

Addressing the Plateau State High Court’s order’s impact on the National Executive Committee (NEC), the apex court clarified that the appellate court was mistaken in asserting that the order affected the NEC.

Justice Agim emphasized that matters related to primaries are internal affairs of political parties, beyond the purview of both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

Agim also cautioned the legal profession to be vigilant, as failure to do so could render it irrelevant to society.

Presiding Justice John Okoro expressed regret that numerous individuals suffered due to the appellate court’s erroneous judgments, which had unseated several legislators who had won elections under the PDP.

Justice Helen Ogunwumiju criticized the appellate court for delving into the issues of nomination and sponsorship, contrary to several decisions of the apex court asserting that one political party cannot challenge another’s primary election.

Mutfwang of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) secured 525,299 votes, defeating the All Progressives Congress candidate, Nentawe Yilwatda, who amassed 481,370 votes during the March 18 governorship poll in Plateau State.

The governor’s election was upheld by the Plateau State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Jos, the state capital.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, in its judgment on November 19, 2023, overturned Mr. Mutfwang’s victory, prompting him to file an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge the lower court’s decision.