8th February, 2015
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Corruption Watch UK, and the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) have sent an open letter to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega seeking his “Clarifications on the contracts for printing ballot papers for the 2015 elections.”
The groups expressed concerns at suggestions that INEC may have overpaid considerably for the ballot papers. “Information passed to us suggests that INEC may have paid as much as four times more for the ballot papers than they cost to produce. If true, this raises serious issues of transparency and accountability in the procurement process by INEC, and will amount to a fundamental breach of the UN Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party.”
The groups argued that, transparent, competitive and efficient procurement systems are part of the broad measures needed to curb corruption in the electoral process, and to achieve a fair political process and ultimately, the rule of law.
The letter dated 6 February 2015 was signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni; Corruption Watch director Andrew Feinstein, and ANEEJ executive director David Ugolor.
The groups noted that: “there must be full transparency over the contracts to print the ballot papers for the General Election, including the number of ballot papers ordered, the cost of the ballot papers, the companies selected to complete the contracts and the systems put in place to guarantee the security of the printing and delivery process.”
“We believe that if full transparency is not followed with regard to the ballot paper contracts, it is capable of tarnishing the legitimacy of the electoral process itself. Transparency is also necessary to enhance the credibility of INEC and citizens’ trust and full participation and engagement with the electoral process,” the groups also stated.
The groups requested that Jega use his good offices and leadership to urgently and widely publish the contracts that INEC entered into for the ballot papers with a full break down of costs and the number of ballot papers ordered, and the companies that will print the papers.
“At the very least, INEC should put in the public domain the cost of the contracts, the number of ballot papers specified in the contract, and the companies with which contracts have been entered into. We would also be grateful for clarifications on the process for the bidding for the contracts,” the groups added.