The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, delivered a unanimous judgment, asserting that Muftwang was not validly nominated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 18 March governorship election.
The panel, consisting of three members, highlighted the pre and post-election significance of qualification issues under Section 177(c) of the Nigerian Constitution,1999, and Sections 80 and 82 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The panel emphasized the PDP’s failure to comply with the 2020 court order, directing valid ward, local government, and state congresses before nominating candidates.
This non-compliance, coupled with the Court of Appeal’s order in CA/J1/93/2021, was deemed a breach of the law. As a result, the PDP was declared to lack a valid structure for nominating a candidate in the 2023 general elections.
In response to the ruling, the Court of Appeal directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw Muftwang’s certificate of return and issue a fresh one to Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda of the APC, acknowledging him as the rightful winner with 481,370 votes, surpassing Muftwang’s 525,299 votes.
The APC candidate had initially challenged Muftwang’s victory at the tribunal, alleging invalid sponsorship and nomination by the PDP.
Despite the tribunal dismissing these claims as lacking in merit, dissatisfaction with the judgment led to an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Mr. Goshwe, the APC candidate, persisted in arguing Muftwang’s lack of qualification to contest the election due to a lack of valid sponsorship by the PDP, citing Section 177(C) of the 1999 Constitution.
Goshwe’s lawyers urged the Appeal Court panel to declare Muftwang’s votes in the March 18 election as wasted and declare Goshwe as the true winner.
Internal Affairs or Judicial Matter: Legal Perspectives
Muftwang’s legal team countered, asserting that the nomination and sponsorship of a candidate were internal party affairs beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
The nuanced legal battle illuminated the complexities of political nomination processes.