Printers Sue Nigeria’s Electoral Body Over Ballot Paper Printing

Ballot paper: Local printers set to sue INEC (News Central TV)

The Independent National Electoral Commission may face legal action after it was claimed that a significant portion of its election-related materials were printed abroad by Nigerian printers affiliated with the Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria.

According to the agency, this was against the CIPPON Act 24 of 2007 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was illegal.

The council is tasked with supervising, regulating, and administering printers, the printing industry, and other printing-related problems in Nigeria.

The President of CIPPON, Olugbemi Malomo, acknowledged that the electoral body had been assigning printing projects to local printers in an interview with reporters on Thursday, but he argued that outsourcing printing contracts to foreign corporations was against the law.

Malomo stated that per the legislation, INEC was required to use CIPPON to award the printing of all electoral materials, including ballots, to regional printers.

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He cited Section 23b of the CIPPON Act, which states, “In regulating the registration of printing practitioners, the council ensures that no firm or partnership shall practise as printers in Nigeria unless it is registered by the council.’’

Malomo stated that there was an improvement in the awards of contracts to Nigerian printers after the CIPPON council visited the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja last year.

Mahmood Yakubu

The CIPPON President said, “There was an increase in patronage of our members. To that extent, that advocacy was meaningful. The second point is what percentage were we able to get? We have not been able to collate that.

“Was there any percentage (in INEC printing jobs) that was taken out? Certainly, but we don’t know what percentage that was taken out. The next level of advocacy, we are thinking of doing and I want you to quote me on this; is that we need to approach a court to interpret the law because the Act that established us says, ‘If you are not our member, you can’t get a printing job in Nigeria.’

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“But we are aware that they patronise people who are not our members, so, we will eventually seek an interpretation of that (in court). But by and large, more people are patronised but we can’t say at what level or how many people were patronised.

“But with the help of the fourth estate of the realm (the media) and for the benefit of all Nigerians, we all need to work together. People are taking the jobs out of the country and I can tell you it is not because of lack of capacity, it is because of other interests.’’

Malomo responded to suggestions that Nigerian businesses might not be able to complete the project by the deadline by asserting that the switch to electronic voting had removed the mystery around ballots.

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He emphasised that no single company could deliver the quantity of ballot sheets and other materials required for the election and claimed that the new Electoral Act had eliminated the argument of lack of capacity typically used against Nigerian printers, giving INEC enough time to prepare.

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