The Supreme Court has upheld Caleb Muftwang as the duly elected Governor of Plateau State, overturning the previous ruling by the Court of Appeal. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the March governorship election had appealed the earlier judgment, which had nullified his victory.
The Court of Appeal had ruled in November that Muftwang was not sponsored by the PDP, upholding the victory of Nentawe Yilwada of the All Progressives Congress (APC). However, Muftwang approached the Supreme Court to contest the decision.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the judgment, emphasized the internal affairs of political parties and noted that the Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction to determine the validity of the PDP’s candidate. He stated, “Yilwada of the APC has no right to challenge the emergence of Governor Muftwang as a ticket-holder of the PDP.”
The Court of Appeal had based its decision on the alleged failure of the PDP to comply with an order of the Plateau State High Court to conduct fresh congresses before holding primary elections. However, the Supreme Court found evidence that the order was indeed complied with by the party.
Justice Agim concluded, “The legal profession should wake up. For this reason, this appeal is allowed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is set aside, inclusive of the orders made therein. The judgment of the tribunal is restored. The election of the governor is further restored.”
Justice Okoro expressed concern about the impact of the Court of Appeal’s decision on individuals, stating, “My only worry is that a lot of people have suffered as a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision. It was absolutely wrong.”
Justices Uwani Abba-Aji and Helen Ogunwumiju, along with Justice Adamu Jauro, concurred with the lead judgment, highlighting the fundamental error made by the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court’s decision reinstates Caleb Muftwang as the legitimate Governor of Plateau State and brings an end to the legal challenges surrounding the March 18, 2023, governorship election in the state.