Nentawe -vs- Mutfwang :How Tribunal dismisses APC's Petition for lack of merit.
Report by Kutyil Gershon -Jos
Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos, has on Friday, 22nd September, 2023, affirmed the election of Caleb Mutfwang of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as Governor of Plateau State.
In an unanimous judgment delevered by a 3 man panel which had, Justice. R. Irele- Ifijeh Chairman, Hon. Justice. Sunday Olorundahunsi Member and, Hon. Justice A.Y, the
Tribunal dismissed the petition filed by Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress, APC, seeking the tribunal to upturn the declaration of Caleb Mutfwang by Independent National Electoral Commission INEC as governor of plateau during the 2023 general election on 3 grounds.
Goshwe had challenged the election of Mutfwang claiming that the governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by his Party (PDP), that PDP has no structure to sponsor any candidate for the governorship election and that the election of Mutfwang was not conducted in compliance with the electoral act and Mutfwang did not win the majority of lawful votes cast during the election.
Concerning the issue of nomination of party candidate raised by Nentawe Yilwatda Goshwe ,the tribunal held that, is a pre-election matter, and as such, declined jurisdiction to entertain such, as such, APC has no locus standi to question the qualifications and sponsorship of Mutfwang, noting that “it is a pre election matter and only members of the PDP have the right to challenge it within a stipulated period of time”.
The second issue raised by the petitioners, has to do with, over voting and non compliance with the electoral act regarding the use of BVAS: The court ruled that: most of the APC's witnesses have no bearings with the PU results which they came to tender as
only 21 witnesses testify out of over 200
and none use of bivas was not established by these 21 witnesses. Pulling agents admitted BVAS was used, as they claimed they voted there and were accredited before voting.
The court therefore said that the petitioner has
No evidence to show that the governorship elections conducted in plateau state was not conducted In substantial compliance with the electoral act.
The tribunal also said, it has found out that the few witnesses of the petitioner gave a hearsay evidences, or their evidences were grossly damaged under cross-examination, and so the tribunal could not rely on those evidences. The tribunal declared .
The third ground of petition was that Governor Mutfwang did not score the majority of the lawful votes cast during the election. Again, the tribunal resolved that against the petitioner. Because the law states it that if you are challenging the result of election declared by INEC, you must bring another result, but no other result was tendered by the petitioner before the tribunal. So, in all, all the three issues canvassed, raised, and urged before the tribunal ended against the petitioner. So you can say it is a match that ended 3-0 in favor of the governor.”
Counsel to Mutfwang, Akinlolu Kehinde SAN reacted thus: “The judgement was delivered on three basic grounds. The first is the petitioner questioning the nomination of my client, but the tribunal decided that it is not in the place of the petitioner to question issues of another political party, that means the petitioner has no locus to challenge the nomination of the governor.
In all the petitions grounds submitted by the petitioners against 2nd respondent, tribunal adjudicated That, APC has no locus standi to question the qualifications and sponsorship of Mutfwang , PDP conducted a repeated congress on 25/9/202, PDP has a legitimate structure to sponsor Mutfwang .