Mutfwang Manasseh, the governor of Plateau State and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was fired by the Court of Appeal’s Abuja division on Sunday.
It commanded that Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress, or APC, be acknowledged by the Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, as the duly elected governor in the March 18 governorship race.
In her lead opinion, Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, who presided over a three-person panel, referred to section 177 of the Constitution and stated that Manasseh was not legitimately supported by the PDP in the election.
The panel determined that the party’s conduct of the Congress in only five of the state’s seventeen local government areas was a violation of the court order requiring a legal Congress to be held in all 17 local government areas, and as such, the Congress is void.
In contrast to the findings of the tribunal, which concluded that the appellant lacked the locus to argue the legality of the respondent’s candidacy, the court found, dismissing the decision of the Plateau State tribunal, that the question of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election concern.
The court further pointed out that a political party’s exclusive right to support a candidate after fulfilling the prerequisites is stipulated in section 134 of the Electoral Act.
The court directed the INEC to obtain the certificate of return given to Governor Manasseh and provide a new certificate of return to Goshwe, invoking section 136 of the Electoral Act in the process.