Supreme Court reserves judgments on Plateau, Delta elections’ disputes

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgments in the governorship election appeals against Governors Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau) and Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta).

A five-member panel presided over by Justice John Okoro said parties would be notified when the judgments are ready for delivery.

Three appeals were filed on the Plateau and Delta polls.

Of the three on Plateau, the court heard the one filed by Mutfwang (SC/CV/1190/2023).

It was agreed that the decision in the one heard shall be applied to the appeal by the governor’s platform- the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), marked: SC/CV/1191/2023.

The third appeal, filed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was withdrawn by its lawyer, Samuel Atung (SAN).

The court made him realise that the other appeals were sufficient to resolve the dispute.

The three appeals are against the November 19 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which voided Mutfwang’s election.

Arguing his appeal, his lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), urged the court to allow the appeal, set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal and restore the judgment of the election tribunal which affirmed his client’s election.

Agabi argued that the Court of Appeal erred in reaching its conclusion that Mutfwang was not validly-sponsored and therefore not qualified to have contested.

He further argued that, as against the lower court’s finding that the PDP disobeyed an order of the High Court of Plateau State, the order was complied with, because the party conducted fresh congresses as directed.

Agabi contended that his client was validly nominated and sponsored by the PDP, adding that he won the majority of votes cast, which accounted for why INEC declared him the winner.

When asked by Justices Okoro and Emmanuel Agim about the effect of the subsisting order of the Plateau High Court on the candidacy of his client, Agabi said it has no effect because the PDP complied with the order.

He noted that the Court of Appeal equally agreed that PDP complied with the order, but only said there was no substantial compliance.

Professor Joshua Olatoke (SAN), lawyer to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election, Nentawe Yilwatda (the first respondent), urged the court to dismiss the appeal and affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

Olatoke argued that the lower court was right to have held that Mutfwang was not qualified to contest the election given his invalid nomination and sponsorship on the grounds that the PDP had no valid structure in place in the state to produce a valid candidate.

He further argued that the PDP in Plateau, having failed to comply with the court order directing it to conduct fresh ward congresses to constitute its state executive, was under the control of an illegal executive, which could not conduct a valid primary to produce candidates for elections.

When asked to react to Agabi’s claim that the PDP complied with the order, Olatoke faulted the claim.

He drew the court’s attention to a portion of the Court of Appeal judgment, where the lower court found that the PDP only conducted fresh congresses in five out of the 17 local government areas.

Counsel for the APC, Omosanya Popoola, also prayed the court to dismiss the appeal.

Appeals reserved on Delta appeal

Also yesterday, the Supreme Court heard three appeals, seeking to unseat Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State.

The court also reserved judgments till a date to be communicated to parties.

The first appeal, marked: SC/CV/1202/2023 was filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, Kenneth Gbagi.

The second, marked: SC/CV/1203, was filed by the APC candidate, Ovie Omo-Agege.

The third (SC/CV/1204/2023) was filed by Labour Party (LP) candidate, Kennedy Pela.