By Mumini AbdulKareem
Chairmanship and councillorship candidates across political parties in the state will today (Monday) be screened by the Kwara State Independent Electoral Commission (KWSIEC).
The screening exercise which is part of the activities of the commission for the council polls scheduled for November 18, 2017 is coming on the heels of tax clearance fraud allegedly being perpetrated by some of the candidates.
KWSIEC in its timetable released few months ago had fixed the screening of the candidates across political parties in the state for Monday 9th October, 2017.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that some candidates scheduled for the exercise across various political parties may be disqualified over allegation of tax fraud.
Apart from the N250,000 the commission charged chairmanship candidates, they are also required to pay another N205,000 as tax clearance while the councillorship hopefuls were made to part with the sum of N50,000.
Some of the political parties that complained about the issue accused the commission of monetising the election with “the high cost of intent form and tax clearance fees”.
They attributed their inability to meet the payment deadline to the ‘exorbitant fee’ charged by KWSIEC for the nomination form and tax clearance.
But the chairman of the commission, Dr Uthman Ajidagba while speaking on the accusation with National Pilot said KWSIEC did not fix or collect any fee for tax clearance.
He noted that the commission has no power to disqualify any candidate from the contest.
“We are not a tax collecting agency. Everybody knows that KWIRS is in charge of tax in the state, why can’t they go and complain to the agency instead of coming to us. What we are saying is that as a statutory requirement, they have to show their tax clearance.
“We are not revenue agency and we don’t receive the money. All we ask them to pay for is nomination forms, N250,000 for chairmanship and N50,000 for councillors, even the bio data forms were given free of charge and all political parties in the state collected it”, he added.
Top sources who confided in this medium on the issue said most of the candidates have reportedly engaged in “unwholesome practices” all for the contest adding that some of the certificates presented by contestants are questionable.
“Because of the election and the need to avoid exorbitant tax payment, some of the candidates have allegedly engaged in sharp practices.
“Also, certificates presented by some of them now and the first time when they contested in the state have been difficult to reconcile. This has been some of the issues that may dominate the screening exercise and if they are caught, they may face disqualification,” the source who declined to name specific parties told National Pilot.
An official of the KWIRS when contacted on the issue declined comment and even refused his name in print adding that the reporter should rather come to the service today (Monday) to meet officials of the revenue agency.