The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Judicial Commission of Inquiry sitting in Makurdi, Benue State has directed the Chairman of the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission ( BSIEC) to return the sum of 20 Million Naira, being money released to the Commission in January this year for Local Government polls that were not conducted.
This was part of the resolution arrived when, Prof. Philip A hire, the BSIEC chairman appeared before the Commission on Friday. The Chairman, revealed that over N700 million was expended on the 2012 local government elections in the state.
Prof Ahire also admitted that the schedule for last year’s council polls was not approved as expected but the sum of N20 million was later released in January this year for the postponed polls.
The Judicial Commission thus directed the BSIEC Chairman to return to it on the 15th of this month to tender all financial transactions in the conduct of past elections and provide receipts and payment vouchers.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Tertsea Ikyaabo revealed that the sum of N97.7 million generated from the sale of shops at the Makurdi International Market was lodged in a Diamond Bank Makurdi account in the name of Benue Integrated Market Development Company Ltd, BEMICO managed by one Mr. Sam Tor.
He explained that the sum of N83 million was withdrawn two days to the expiration of the administration of former Governor Gabriel Suswam, leaving the balance of N14 million, stressing that no staff of the Ministry was signatory to the BEMICO account.
According to him, on the 28th of May, 2015, a company identified as Blessed Day International withdrew N14 million while one Msughter Demekpe withdrew N20 million, and on the 29th May, Real World Integrated withdrew N29 million while Robbing Minds – Solomon withdrew N19.8 million leaving the balance of only N14 million in the account.
Mr. Kyaabo explained that the BEMICO account managed by Sam Tor has two directors who are signatory to its accounts namely – Mr. Alex Adum, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state and one Mr. Austin Ode.
Mr. Ikyaabo tendered other relevant documents as requested by the Judicial Commission, disclosing that the Suswam administration sold all Benue shares in Benue Breweries Ltd, BBL and Agro Millers Makurdi.
Also testifying before the Kpojime Commission, the Managing Director of Benue Investment and Property Company, BIPC, Mrs Bridget Sheidu tendered all the relevant documents requested by the Commission including expenditure and retirement of N72 million which a staff of BIPC, Mr. Terese Apenkasev withdrew for furnishing of BIPC Guest House and Events Centre in North Bank area of Makurdi. The documents were duly admitted in evidence.
The BIPC MD also tendered the voucher and receipt of N80 million which the management of the Company gave one of its staff Mr. John Tyokegh; a document Mrs Sheidu said was used in buying a generating set for the state Guest House in Kaduna.
The Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Judicial Commission of Inquiry also yesterday received testimonies from Data Diamond Global Concepts on the N500 million Bank of Industry loan disbursed in 2012 by the Benue State Government for Micro Small and Medium Scale Investors in the State.
Testifying before the Commission, a former Managing Director of the Consultancy Firm, Mr. Tsenongo Abancha stated that the sum of N483 million of the funds were disbursed as loan.
According to him, the consultancy firm only processed and recommended beneficiaries to the Ministry of Trade and Investment and the bank was in the process of recovering the loans.
Mr. Abancha explained that Data Diamond Global Concepts was not signatory to any of the cheques issued to the beneficiaries and had no knowledge of how the funds were disbursed.
Answering questions from members of the Commission about the payments for his services in contract agreement, Mr Abancha said that he got a verbal approval of N30 million out of which about N19.5 million was released to him.