The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Screening Appeal Committee has voided the disqualification of the Adamawa State Acting Governor, Umar Fintiri. Consequently, the panel has given him the clearance to participate in the party’s primary election coming up on September 6.
Briefing journalists shortly after the appeal seating at the PDP national secretariat on Sunday, Chairman of the panel, Senator James Manager, affirmed Fintiri’s qualification to participate in the election.
Manager said the Ibrahim Mantu led screening panel that disqualified the Acting Governor on Saturday committed an error of judgment in arriving at its decision. The Mantu committee had relied on Section 191 (2) of the Constitution to ease Fintiri out of the race, saying; “Fintiri is not qualified to contest in the primaries because he is not a deputy governor that emerged as acting governor. “He is a child of circumstance. He is the midwife and should not be the one carrying the pregnancy.
He is like a referee who cannot participate in the match”. But faulting Mantu’s position, Senator Manager said: “We have taken a critical look at the entire gamut of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act and the PDP Constitution before arriving at our decision. “The prerequisite for qualification to contest the election, as quoted by the Screening Panel, does not in any way affect the rights of the Acting Governor to contest. “On the strength of that, we have decided to issues the Acting Governor a provisional clearance certificate to participate in the primary election. “This decision is based on the facts on ground and not informed by any primordial sentiments.
The outcome of our exercise is a unanimous decision by all members of the committee”. Fintiri had appealed his disqualification by the Mantu led panel, arguing that the committee erred in its judgment and that the constitutional provision relied upon for his disqualification was misinterpreted.
The Acting Governor’s petition had stated inter alia: “With due respect to the eminent members of the Screening Committee, they cannot read into the provision of the 1999 constitution what is not contained therein. “Even though I am the Acting Governor, my role is just to fill the governance vacuum created by the impeachment of the Governor and the resignation of the Deputy Governor and not that of a “referee or “midwife” carrying a pregnancy. “The referee or midwife is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). If this were so, every Governor who completes a first term and seeks election for a second term must resign from office before he or she can contest.
“In the event of the need to interpret that provision of the Constitution, it is only a court of law that can do so. Not being a court of law, the Screening Committee was not competent to come to the conclusion it came to with regard to the provision of section 191 (2) of the 1999 constitution. “I therefore appeal to you to set the decision of the Screening Committee disqualifying me aside and allow me to contest the gubernatorial primaries coming up on 6th September, 2014. “Apart from being my inalienable right to contest, I make this passionate appeal as a loyal party member who has over the years contributed immensely to the good fortunes of the party in Adamawa state. “Furthermore, disqualifying me will make nonsense of the provisions of the party constitution which guarantees a level playing field for all members and candidates for political offices of the party and the ideals which I know the President of our great country stands for”.
Fintiri, who was accompanied to the venue of the exercise by aides and associates, expressed satisfaction with the decision of the appeal panel, saying it was victory for democracy and victory for the people of Adamawa State.