MARCH 9 ELECTION: MORE TENSION, COUNTER-ALLEGATIONS IN BENUE

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  • APC ALLEGES MULTI-BILLION NAIRA SLUSH FUND TO ‘SETTLE’ ELECTORAL OFFICIALS
  • APC DISMISSES ALLEGATIONS AS ‘FEAR OF IMPENDING DEFEAT’
  • ‘I CAN’T SPEAK FOR R.E.C. OVER N500m ALLEGATION’  SAYS BENUE INEC SPOKESMAN

From Jide Babalola, Assistant Editor, Abuja.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is earmarking billions of Naira to manipulate the forthcoming governorship and House of Assembly elections in Benue state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged.

However, as the two major parties continue to trade allegations and counter-allegations in the tension-soaked build-up to next weekend’s election, PDP leaders have dismissed the APC’s allegations as mere speculation.

According to a Benue PDP leader and new Senator-elect, Mr. Orker Jev, the APC allegations is a mere ‘fear response’ as PDP’s strong followership in Benue state is now making APC leaders in the state to feel jittery about an impending loss.

“According to the allegation, those sums of money were supposed to come from Governor Ortom and the governor’s spokesperson is issuing a statement in response to the baseless allegation.

“All those allegations coming from them (APC) are mere responses of fear over an impending defeat as everyone now knows PDP superior followership and popularity across the entire state,” Orker Jev stated.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, state chairman of APC in Benue, Comrade Abba Yaro had itemized details of election manipulation plans said to have been uncovered through his party’s intelligence effort within PDP, adding that only a support for APC governorship candidate, Mr. Emmanuel Jime can guarantee access and easy working relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“According to the plan by the Governor and PDP in Benue State, INEC ad-hoc staff in the 5,102 Polling Units and Voting Points will be given N75,000 for refreshment amounting to N382,650,000.00; in a similar manner, Ward Collation Officers in the 276 Council wards in Benue State are to go home with N150,000 each.

“It is further alleged that each of the 23 Local Government Electoral Officers (EOs) will get N1,500,000 as “understanding” fee; the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Benue State is not left out in the largess as N500m has been earmarked for him to be paid through a Royal Father in the state.

“Votes are to be bought in all the polling units with N300,000.00 (1,530,600,000 for 5,102 PUs) set aside per polling unit for that purpose.

“In view of where we are in Benue State where salaries are not paid for over 12 months as well as Gratuities and Pensions, these monies earmarked for the election by the Governor are ridiculous to say the least.

“The Benue State Governor has not initiated and completed any project in the last four years and setting aside these huge amounts of money to buy votes would amount to playing on the sensibilities of the Benue electorates especially those who are vulnerable; the Governor has in the last four years impoverished the Benue people through massive looting only to plan to buy votes and win a second term which, God will forbid,” the APC leader stated.

Urging citizens of Benue state to vote for APC’s gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Emmanuel Jime so as to maximize possibilities of benefits from the President Buhari, Yaro further asked for special investigation of PDP leaders and electoral officials in Benue state over involvement with slush funds.

“The APC in Benue State is presenting a credible candidate to be elected as governor on March 9, 2019; Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime is a patriotic Nigerian who does not own conglomerates and as such, he will not have any conflict of interest between his own enterprises and governance.

“He is not a businessman and would not attract foreign investors to his farm/business as it is the case with Gov. Ortom whose numerous trips to China in search of investors has ended up with Chinese on his Oracle Farms.

“The party is advising the governor to use the money he intends to buy voters to offset salaries or better still pay pensioners at least four months’ pension.

“The APC in Benue State calls on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as other security agencies to as a matter of urgency commence investigation and arrest of culprits as vote buying is a criminal offence under the laws of Nigeria; these investigations should include INEC officials who participated in the February 23, 2019 elections in Benue State,” the APC chairman added.  

Asked to respond to allegations of a N500 million ‘arrangement’ for the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Benue state, Professor Nentawe Yiltwada or facilitate a telephone call, INEC’s Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Aondya Terkaa stated that he could not speak for his boss or give his telephone number, adding that 6pm on Tuesday was too late to be asking for such clarifications.

“You want to speak with the REC now? Have you checked your time? It would have been better for you to come to my office and let us see face to face,” Terkaa stated.

However, Governor Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase who warned INEC, security agencies and international observers of alleged APC plans to use military personnel to rig next weekend’s elections in Benue state was yet to respond to our correspondent’s text message.

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