Since the culmination of the 2023 general elections, a spotlight has shifted to the courtrooms where petitions arising from the elections are being adjudicated. The decisions rendered by the judiciary have, in several instances, led to the removal of state governors. Okiki Adeduyite delves into the specifics of the governors ousted and the legal grounds that precipitated these seismic changes.
In a recent judgment, the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Elphreda Williams-Dawodu, mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return given to Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State. The court, in its ruling, declared Nentawe Goshwe of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the rightful winner of the March 18 governorship election, ordering a reissuance of the Certificate of Return in his favor.
In the nine months since the elections, courts have ousted at least three governors, citing contested elections and inconclusive results. The following is a comprehensive list of sacked state governors and the legal grounds provided by the court:
- Abba Kabir Yusuf (NNPP):
- Votes: NNPP – 1,019,602; APC – 890,705.
- Margin: 128,897 votes.
- Decision: The Election Petitions Tribunal, led by Justice Oluyemi Osadebay, invalidated Governor Yusuf’s election by declaring 165,663 votes garnered by him as invalid.
- Caleb Mutfwang (PDP):
- Challenge: Nentawe Goshwe of the APC contested Mutfwang’s victory, claiming the governor was not validly nominated.
- Tribunal: The tribunal, headed by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh, unanimously dismissed Goshwe’s petition for lacking merit.
- Court of Appeal: The three-member panel, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, ruled that Mutfwang was not legitimately sponsored by the PDP, citing Section 177 of the Constitution. The court highlighted the PDP’s failure to comply with a standing High Court order regarding a legitimate party congress.
These legal developments have significantly altered the political landscape, prompting discussions on electoral processes and party regulations. The affected governors are responding by exploring legal avenues to contest these rulings, signaling that the legal battles are far from over.
As the nation closely observes these unfolding events, the role of the judiciary in upholding the sanctity of the electoral process becomes increasingly evident, ensuring that leaders emerge through a transparent and lawful means.
Source: The Punch
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