From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Criticisms have continued to trail the just concluded voters registration exercise in Makurdi Benue State following the alleged extortion of N50 from prospective voters by INEC adhoc staff.
The exercise ended yesterday as eligible voters scrambled to be registered. INEC adhoc staff capitalized on that to extort money from the voters.
It was learnt that some registrants at the Fiidi polling unit in Makurdi alleged that they were asked to pay the fee but they resisted while others paid in order to get registered before the close of the exercise.
Ngodoo Orban, Umeyi and Rachael Orban all complained that Youth Corps members who worked as adhoc staff collected the said amount from them in order to buy fuel to charge the Direct Data Capture Machines, DDC.
According to one Mr. Innocent, the decision to collect the money was a unanimous one taken by members of the community to avoid the exercise being marred.
Reacting to the issue, an INEC officer in Makurdi Local Government Area, Mr. Abu Ofene, condemned the act and cautioned youths corps members against collecting money from the people.
Ofene later gave money to the adhoc staff to purchase fuel and implored the people not to panic as registration will continue at the local government headquarters.
Also commenting on the allegation, INEC Public Relations Officer, Mr. Louis Ochai, condemned the act as illegal.
In another vein, there were complaints of non presence of INEC officers in Kanshio, a suburb in Makurdi, even as allegations that some politicians hijacked the DDC machines and diverted the to their homes.
“Some politicians are using this registration to get support for their political ambition. Most of them in collaboration with INEC diverted the machines and are registering their supporters in their houses. In other cases, areas seen as strong opposition polling units, were deliberately left out. This is undemocratic”, Mr. Afatyo Msen, a resident of Kanshio lamented.