The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) under the leadership of Dr. John Tor Tsuwa, has rejected the list of candidates earlier submitted to it by the Benue State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It cited a directive from the National Secretariat of the opposition party as reason for the action.
BSIEC, in a letter addressed to the Benue State Secretariat of the PDP on Wednesday, stated that, it was returning the list since it was not signed by the State Chairman of the Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction.
The Benue PDP, under the leadership of Sir John Ngbede, had on Sunday, submitted to BSIEC, names of successful councillorship and chairmanship candidates at the just concluded primaries across the state.
Consequently, the BSIEC issued the Bio-Data forms to the candidates on Monday, with the intentions of issuing nomination forms at a later date.
But in a letter of rejection sent to PDP State Secretariat on Wednesday, the Commission requested that, the opposition party should come to it for a refund of monies already paid for purchase of Bio-data forms by councillorship and chairmanship candidates it earlier submitted.
In a swift reaction, the Publicity Secretary of PDP in Benue, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, accused BSIEC of being compromised by the APC led state government.
The party said, BSIEC, by its actions, had erred and was in violation of the mandate conferred on it by law to act as an impartial umpire in local government elections in the state.
“Pundits have argued that the Commission ought to look to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for guidance and directives on the status of political parties and their leadership compositions in the state.
“By its action, the state electoral umpire appears to have disregarded the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, in February this year, which ordered for maintenence of the status quo ante in the PDP, as at 21st May, 2016.
“A maintenance of the status quo on the matter in the state confers recognition of the State Executive Committee of the PDP, which was elected and inaugurated at a lawfully conducted State Congress on 12th May, 2016, as monitored by the various security agencies and supervised by INEC.
“At that State Congress, John Ngbede had been elected as State Chairman with 26 other members of a State Exco, and at the 21st May, 2016 Port-Harcourt National Convention of the party, it was the Ngbede-led State Exco which represented Benue State as delegates.
“The position of one of the 3 Justices of the Court of Appeal, Port-Harcourt, who gave the recent judgement on the national leadership crisis between Senators Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Mohdu Sherrif, had maintained that, the issue which was up for determination in court was only the national leadership of the party and not any other of its leadership organs”, Iortyom said.
Meanwhile, the rejection of the list of PDP candidates in the state by BSIEC is been viewed by the people as a poorly cooked plot to pave way for easy victory for the ruling APC at the June 3rd local council polls in the state.
Such view is based on the fact that, “the group which the state electoral umpire seeks to recognise as a faction of the opposition party does not have any membership strength, neither has it conducted any primary elections.
“Propping the group up and pushing it forward for the elections is a plot to stop the PDP with its millions of supporters across the state from participating in the elections, thereby paving way for easy victory for the ruling APC”, the statement further added.