From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) has realised overN8 million from sale of Certificate of Return to Chairmen-elect and Councilors-elect in the state.
Daily Sun reliably gathered that when all the 23 Chairmen-elect and 276 Councilors-elect, who were adjudged winners of last Saturday’s local government elections came to collect their Certificates of Return from the BESIEC, they were directed to pay some monies mandatory before the certificates would be issues to them.
Our impeccable sources, some of whom were directly affected, but did not want their names in prints, disclosed that the commission asked councilors to pay the sum of N25,000 while chairmen were asked to pay N60,000 as fee for the certificate and handling charges before the certificates were issued to them.
Our source, who lamented the arbitrary charges, said it was strange for the elections umpire to demand such money from elected candidates for return certificates that was supposed to be given to them free of charge.
“During our screening at the commission headquarters in Makurdi before the main election, all councillorship candidates were compelled to pay the sum of N155, 000, while chairmanship candidates paid the sum of N250,000.00 respectively to obtain screening forms that qualified them to participate in the election.”
“We are totally against this practice by the commission but we have no option than to comply with the commission’s directive and pay the money,” a chairman elect said.
When contacted for clarification on the matter, BSIEC Chairman, Dr. John Tsuwa, who confirmed the report said the money the commission mandated the elected chairmen and councilors to pay was not illegal but within the ambit of the electoral guidelines as provided by the electoral laws.
Tsuwa who spoke through the Commission’s director of information, Mr. Austin Odiba, explained that the commission actually collected the said money from the elected local government officers being fees for certificate of return.
“Yes, the commission is collecting the sum of N25,000 from councilors- elect and N60,000 from chairmen-elect respectively for handling charges and certificate of return because all the amounts are stipulated in the electoral guidelines, that at the end of the elections, winners of the election must pay the fees before getting his or her certificate of return.”