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Supreme Court Reinstates Caleb Mutfwang as Plateau State Governor

Supreme Court Reinstates Caleb Mutfwang as Plateau State Governor

In a significant legal turnaround, the Supreme Court has overturned the dismissal of Caleb Mutfwang, restoring him as the Governor of Plateau State. The Court of Appeal in Abuja had previously removed Mutfwang from office on November 19, citing the violation of a court order by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and ordering a valid congress across the state’s 17 Local Government Areas.

The appellate court specifically highlighted the PDP’s failure to conduct congress in 17 LGAs, deeming the process in only five LGAs as a “nullity.” However, a five-member panel led by Justice Emmanuel Agim at the Supreme Court deemed the appellate court’s decision perverse, emphasizing that the primary election’s jurisdiction was beyond the lower court’s purview.

Justice Agim clarified that the validity of nomination and sponsorship does not constitute grounds to void an election, asserting that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to address the matter. He further noted that the issue of sponsorship was time-barred, and the petitioners, not being PDP members, lacked the standing to challenge the party’s primary election.

Addressing whether the Plateau State High Court’s order could affect the National Executive Committee (NEC), the apex court ruled against the appellate court, stating that it erred in concluding that the order impacted the NEC. Justice Agim underscored that primary issues were internal matters for political parties, beyond the jurisdiction of both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

Contrary to claims by the petitioners and the appellate court’s judgment, the Supreme Court emphasized that the PDP had not disobeyed the Plateau High Court’s order, presenting evidence of a fresh primary being conducted. Justice Agim cautioned the legal profession, urging it to remain vigilant to avoid rendering itself irrelevant to society.

Presiding Justice John Okoro expressed concern over the ramifications of wrongful judgments, noting that many individuals had suffered due to the appellate court’s decisions, which had unseated several legislators elected under the PDP banner.

Justice Helen Ogunwumiju also criticized the Court of Appeal for delving into the issues of nomination and sponsorship, citing previous apex court decisions asserting that one political party cannot challenge the primary election of another.

Caleb Mutfwang, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), originally secured victory in the Plateau State governorship poll on March 18, 2023, with 525,299 votes. The Plateau State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Jos upheld his election. However, the Court of Appeal’s overturning of his victory prompted Mutfwang to appeal to the Supreme Court, resulting in the recent reinstatement of his position as Governor of Plateau State.

Supreme Court Reinstates Caleb Mutfwang as Plateau State Governor

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