The Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Jos, has affirmed the victory of Caleb Mutfwang from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Governor of Plateau State and has dismissed the petition filed by Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Goshwe had contested Mutfwang’s election, asserting that the governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by the PDP, alleging that the PDP lacked the organizational structure to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, and claiming that Mutfwang did not win the majority of lawful votes cast during the election in compliance with the electoral act.
However, in a unanimous judgment delivered on Friday, the three-member panel, consisting of Hon. Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh as Chairman, Hon. Justice Sunday Olorundahunsi as Member 1, and Hon. Justice A.Y. Joh as Member 2, dismissed the petition for lacking merit.
Akinlolu Kehinde SAN, the counsel representing Mutfwang, responded by saying, “The judgment was delivered based on three fundamental grounds. Firstly, the petitioner’s challenge of my client’s nomination was deemed irrelevant, as it was not within the petitioner’s jurisdiction to question another political party’s issues, indicating that the petitioner lacked the legal standing to challenge the governor’s nomination.”
Kehinde SAN further explained, “The second issue concerned non-compliance with the Electoral Act. The tribunal found that out of the 247 contested polling unit results, the petitioner presented witnesses from only 24 polling units, which amounted to just 9.2%. Additionally, the tribunal noted that the petitioner’s few witnesses provided hearsay evidence or had their testimonies severely discredited during cross-examination, making them unreliable. The third issue raised was that Governor Mutfwang did not secure the majority of lawful votes during the election. However, the tribunal ruled against the petitioner on this matter, as they failed to present an alternative set of election results as required by law. In summary, all three issues raised by the petitioner were decided against them. Therefore, one could say it was a 3-0 victory in favor of the governor.”
Kehinde SAN expressed his satisfaction with the tribunal’s decision, stating, “I am delighted and fulfilled because the tribunal has upheld and reaffirmed the law.”
On the other hand, the petitioner’s counsel, Edward Pwajok SAN, announced that his client would appeal the tribunal’s judgment, emphasizing their commitment to seeking justice. He also expressed relief that no costs were imposed on his client.
In response to the tribunal’s decision, Governor Mutfwang expressed gratitude, saying, “I want to thank God for the judges who presided over this tribunal for their fairness and commitment to upholding the law. Justice is not elusive; when it is served, the people can feel it. There is jubilation in the state capital, and the people are ecstatic. I call upon my fellow petitioners to unite and work together for the progress of the state. Engaging in prolonged litigation is unnecessary, especially when the people have clearly spoken. Let’s respect the will of the people of Plateau and collaborate. I believe they have valuable contributions to make. We must not allow external influences to divide us. I extend my gratitude to God and the people of Plateau.”
Meanwhile, Sylvanus Namang, the State Publicity Secretary of the APC, urged calm among party members and supporters. He acknowledged that the tribunal’s judgment was not in their favor but emphasized their faith in the judiciary. Namang stated, “Today’s judgment by the Tribunal is therefore a temporary setback, and we believe we will ultimately prevail in the long run. We call on our members and supporters to remain calm and optimistic, thanking them for their patience and the maturity they demonstrated throughout the tribunal proceedings.”
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