Justify N700m poll tax fund, Senate tells ministry

On Wednesday, the Senate gave the Interior Ministry 24 hours to defend the N700m collected from Service Wide Votes for monitoring the Ondo and Edo gubernatorial elections.

According to the records, the money was released in two batches, N400 million for the Ondo governor election and N300 million for the Edo governor election.

According to the Authority to Incur Expenses, N400m and N300m were handed over to the Interior Ministry for “logistical and operational support for the Ondo and Edo state gubernatorial elections.”

In response to questions, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, told the Senate that the N700m will be accounted for by the Nigerian Civil Defense Corps.

Belgore noted that it was the NSDC that could account for the money, “we only make requests on behalf of the NSDC,” he said.

The chairman of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, who obviously disagreed with the explanation, said the excuse was not tenable because the NSDC did not raise the money.

He added that the NSDC will only appear before the committee to account for money requested personally from Service Wide Votes.

Urhoghide said: “NSDC have their own inquiries, they go before the panel to answer the one that bears their names and the money is given directly to them.

“According to our records, it is your ministry that will defend the spending, not the NSDC.”

The president therefore gave the Ministry 24 hours to defend the N700m awarded to him for the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections.

“You have 24 hours to send us your report, we must obtain an explanation from you,” he presented.

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