THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Sunday, was ordered by a Court of Appeal, led by Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu, to withdraw the Certificate of Return given to the Governor of Plateau State, Caleb Mutfwang
Trojan News Media had earlier reported that the court declared the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nentawe Goshwe, the rightful winner of the March 18 governorship election.
The court ordered INEC to issue a new Certificate of Return to him.
Courts have sacked at least three governors whose elections were contested by opposing parties and deemed one election inconclusive, barely nine months after the elections.
The following is a list of sacked state governors and the grounds given by the court:
Abba Kabir Yusuf (NNPP)
The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) received 1,019,602 votes to defeat the APC, whose candidate, Nasir Gawuna, received 890,705 votes, according to INEC. As a result, the NNPP candidate won by a margin of 128,897 votes.
The Election Petitions Tribunal, under the leadership of Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, invalidated the election of Governor Yusuf. The tribunal made this decision by declaring 165,663 votes, garnered by Yusuf invalid.
The ballot papers for the 165,663 votes were not signed or stamped, according to the judge, and thus were invalid.
The court ordered that Yusuf’s certificate of return be revoked and that a fresh one be issued to Gawuna.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja also upheld the tribunal’s decision.
The three-member panel, led by Justice M.A Adumeh, determined that Yusuf was not on his political party’s membership list.
He stated that a party must hold the names of its registered members in both hard and soft copies, citing a clause of the Electoral Act.
The judge stated that the tribunal erred in failing to disqualify Yusuf in its ruling.
He ruled, “The tribunal was wrong not to have disqualified him. The failure to comply with Section 177(c) is fatal to their election. . Where a party carelessly nominates a candidate such is a nullity irrespective of whether he performs well. Sponsorship without membership is like putting nothing on something, it cannot stand. This is a clear example of acting with brazen impunity as if the Constitution is not binding.”
Yusuf has, however, vowed to reclaim his mandate at the Supreme Court.
Abdullahi Sule (APC)
The Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sacked the state governor, Abdullahi Sule, in October and ordered INEC to revoke his Certificate of Return and give it to David Ombugadu of the PDP.
Ombugadu had taken Sule to court to contest INEC’s announcement of Sule as the winner of the election.
He told the tribunal that his actual votes were unfairly lowered while Sule of the APC’s votes were boosted to help him win, notably in the EC8Bs of Gayam and Chiroma Wards of Lafia Local Government Area.
The tribunal, led by Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, in its decision deducted the incorrect votes added to Sule and added back the votes which were reduced from the overall votes of David Ombugadu. This decision was based on the certified copies of the polling units results (forms EC8A) that were presented by the petitioners.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday, November 15, reserved judgment on the appeal.
Dauda Lawal (PDP)
INEC had declared Dauda Lawal of the PDP as the winner of the Zamfara State governorship election, defeating the incumbent governor, Bello Matawalle of the APC.
Matawalle had filed a case with the tribunal contesting the results of the governorship election on March 18, but it was dismissed due to lack of merit.
The Court of Appeal issued its decision on Thursday, November 16, declaring the election inconclusive and ordering INEC to hold new elections in two local governments.
According to the appellate court, Matawalle, who is currently the Minister of State for Defence, was able to establish Lawal’s invalid election.
The governor, in a statement by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Idris, said his legal team was reviewing the judgment before taking the next necessary action.
Caleb Mutfwang (PDP)
Nentawe Goshwe of the APC challenged the victory of Caleb Mutfwang at the tribunal, claiming that the governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by his party.
A three-member panel of the tribunal headed by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the petition of Goshwe for lacking merit.
The three-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu ruled on Sunday, November 19, that the governor was not legitimately sponsored by the PDP for the election, citing Section 177 of the Constitution.
The judge pointed out that the PDP failed to adhere to a standing High Court order, which mandated the party to organise a legitimate party congress before endorsing candidates for the governorship and other positions.
Mutfwang, who has directed his legal team to submit an appeal with the Supreme Court, expressed hope that the mandate bestowed upon him by the people of the state would be reinstated.
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