By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — BARELY 16 hours after it disqualified the acting governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, from contesting the October 11 gubernatorial by- election in Adamawa State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, cleared him to contest the election.
With this development, the Acting Governor of Adamawa State will now join the other 13 aspirants, who were cleared on Saturday to participate in the September 6 primary election of PDP for the emergence of the party’s candidate for the October 11 gubernatorial election in Adamawa State.
The PDP after reviewing its earlier disqualification by the five member screening Committee headed by former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, made a sudden change, faulting the Saturday’s position.
The PDP appeal panel headed by Senator James Manager which sat at the party’s national secretariat for two and a half hours said section 191(2) of the 1999 Constitution which the screening panel relied upon to disqualify Fintiri does not in any way affect his right to contest the by-election.
Addressing journalists after the sitting, the panel Chairman and Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta, Senator James Manager, Delta North, said: “We have looked at section 191(2) which the screening panel relied on to disqualify the acting governor as well as the entire gamut of the constitution of Nigerian the Electoral Act and the constitution of the PDP; we have come to the irresistible conclusion that the provision as quoted by the screening committee does not affect the right of the acting governor to contest the election.
“Our decision is unanimous because all members of this appeal panel have signed it. That is why we have issued him a provisional clearance certificate.
“Section 191 (2) does not affect the applicant to participate in the election. This decision was unanimously taken by us. We are issuing a provisional clearance to the applicant.
“Almost all of us are meeting the acting governor for the first time and the decision to clear him was taken based on what was before us and not taken for any primordial reason.”
The five- member Screening Panel headed by Mantu was set up by the National Working Committee, NWC to screen the aspirants who purchased the expression of interest and nomination forms. Besides Senator Ibrahim Mantu, other members of the Committee were former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin; Amina Jambo; Mai Adamu Mustapha and Salisu Dabo who was absent.
Some members of the Appeal Panel were the Secretary, PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin, National Vice Chairmen, South West, South South; South East, among others.
Reacting to the development, an excited Fintiri who spoke with Journalists at PDP National Secretariat, yesterday described his clearance by the Appeal Panel as a victory for the PDP, democracy and Adamawa people.
On how he felt yesterday after he was screened out, the acting governor said “I felt normal because it is one of the hurdles in politics, you must pass through certain negative hurdles to reach the promised land.
He however said that if he doesn’t win the primary he would queue behind whoever emerged as the party flagbearer, adding that he expected others to queue behind him if he emerged as the flag bearer”.
Following his disqualification on Saturday by the Mantu led screening panel, Fintiri submitted a petition to the appeal panel where he argued that justice had not been done by the screening panel.
According to the petition, Fintiri said, “From section 191 of the constitution as quoted by the screening committee, it is clear that there is nothing that precludes me from contesting the said election. If the makers of the constitution were minded to so do, it would have been so stated that the holder of the office for a period of three months shall not be eligible to contest the election.
“What the Screening Committee Chairman, Senator Mantu said clearly reinforces the misapprehension of the relevant provision of the 1999 Constitution.
Of the fourteen aspirants who appeared before the Mantu led Committee, only the Acting governor was disqualified while thirteen were cleared to participate for the party’s primary election.
Those cleared by Mantu’s Committee to go for the primary elction were Dr. Umar Ardo; former Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Senator Abubakar Girei; former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak; Erstwhile Military Administrator of Lagos and Borno States, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa and former Minister of Statement Foreign Affairs, Dr. Aliyu Idi- Hong.
Others were the immediate past Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed; Son of former PDP National Chairman, Awwal Bamanga Tukur; Marcus Natina Gundiri; James Shuiabu Barka; Jerry Kundusi; Engr. Brig. Gen. Aliyu A.V. Kama and Prof. Andrawus Sawa.