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, (INEC)Professor Attahiru Jega, seeking “clarification on the contracts for the printing of ballot papers for the 2015 elections.”
In a statement signed for and on behalf of the civil society organisations (CSOs) by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, they expressed “concern 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 United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Nigeria is a state party.”
They 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 February 6, 2015, said: “There must be full transparency in the award of the contracts to print the ballot papers for the general elections, 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 asked Jega to use his “good office and leadership to urgently and widely publish the contracts that INEC entered into for the ballot papers with a full breakdown 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 clarification on the process for the bidding for the contracts,” the groups added.