Anxiety in Plateau as Supreme Court delivers judgment of gov’ship election Friday

There is anxiety in Jos, the Plateau state capital, and its environs as the Supreme Court sets Friday as the judgment day for the governorship election in the state. Governor Caleb Mutfwang had filed an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, which nullified his election.

A statement from the Office Of Acting Legal adviser, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Plateau state chapter and sighed by P. E. Dakyen, Esq., said that the legal them was officially notified of the date from the Supreme Court.

The statement said, “Take notice that judgement in the Plateau State Governorship Appeal at the Supreme Court is scheduled to be delivered on Friday 12th January 2024.

“Our Counsel have been officially notified hence this notice.”

Interest in the Plateau state Governorship election conducted on March 18, 2023, had heightened since the Appeal Court upturned the judgment of the State election petition tribunal, which declared Caleb Mutfwang as the duly elected candidate in the March 18 Governorship election in the state. INEC had declared that Mutfwang got 525,299 votes to defeat Nentawe Yilwatda, who polled 481,370 votes. Not satisfied, the APC candidate had filed a petition at the tribunal.

The tribunal had dismissed the suit filed by All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate in the March 18, 2023 election, Yilwadta Nentawe Goshwe on the ground that the winner and Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Caleb Mutfwang, was not properly nominated to fly the flag of PDP as the party had no structure to nominate him as its candidate.

Not satisfied with the judgment, the APC candidate had gone to the Court of Appeal. However, the appellate court agreed with him and nullified Mutfwang’s election and asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mutfwang and give it to Nentawe.

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu had on November 19, 2023, nullified the election of Mutfwang and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to the candidate of the All-Progressive Congress (APC), Nentawe Goshwe.

The appellate court held that the appeal brought by Goshwe was valid as the qualification issue was both a pre and post-election matter under Section 177(c) of the Nigerian Constitution and Sections 80 and 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

The appellate court in upturning the ruling of the tribunal had held that as at the time Mutfwang contested the election, the party had no structure to sponsor any candidate in the election. In one clean swoop, the court also sacked all the legislators, both at the state and national assemblies elected under PDP.

This interest has become more tense since the notice for the judgment was communicated to the parties on Thursday. Netizons have set the internet abuzz expressing the views for or against the parties to the dispute.

Both parties made their final submission to the apex court on Tuesday prompting the court to reserve the judgment.

Mutfwang had urged the apex court to nullify the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which sacked him from office.The governor, who made this request in his appeal filed before the apex court by an eight-man team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria(SANs), led by Chief Kanu Agabi, accused the lower court of not giving him and his party, a fair hearing, while Nentawe asked the apex court to uphold the judgment of the lower court and declare him the rightful winner of the election.

Their supporters are interpreting their submissions and demeanour of the court to suit their whims. While some PDP supporters have concluded that the case has already been won, APC supporters are saying bye-bye to the ruling party.

Istifanus Elkanah gave what he called a public notice. He wrote “To those returning to Abuja, kindly use Congratulations Mutfwang.Your password Ogah Strcuctured PDP.”

Jifotmwa Gaktong replied, “If you have structure fine, but the ruling tomorrow will be based on over voting and irregularities during election, since INEC refuse to defend you people as it’s been done at tribunal, dey come withdraw, Nawahooo for you that only be based on structure.”

Joseph Joel simply said “PDP is gone.” Andy Yakubu said, “Boom Good News is coming soon, And the celebration Will be loud. Indeed the voice of the majority is the voice of God.” Emmanuel Munpoji described judgment day as “Another Christmas celebration by tomorrow Friday on the Plateau.”

Benshak Emmanuel Dalap asked “Justice Okoro: Does the court has jurisdiction to entertain this matter ? APC SAN Lawyers: No my Lord. Case closed wait for judgment 12/01/2024.”

However some Plateau indigenes are indifferent, praying to God for peace for peace and for the best candidate to win. Amb Joachin Joseph Dung said, “Let the one you have destined to Lead your people on the Plateau for the next four Years emerge victorious, O Lord we pray.


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