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Nigerian printers under the aegis of Chartered Institute of Professional Printers of Nigeria have threatened to take the Independent National Electoral Commission to court for not patronising them in the printing of ballot papers.
The printers alleged that INEC printed a large chunk of its electoral materials overseas.
According to the body ,the action is illegal and a violation of the CIPPON Act 24 of 2007 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The council is charged with the duty of regulating, controlling, managing and administration of printers, the business of printing and other printing related-matters in Nigeria.
President of CIPPON, Mr Olugbemi Malomo, insisted that outsourcing contracting printing contracts to foreign firms was a violation of the law.
He however admitted that the electoral body had been awarding printing jobs to local printers.
Malomo explained that by law, INEC was obligated to award the printing of all electoral materials, including ballot papers to local printers through CIPPON.
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.
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.’
“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.’’
Also speaking, the Secretary General of the Abuja Printers’ Forum, Bissala Bello, said six local printers had been engaged by INEC to print ballot papers for the coming polls.
According to him, four are in Abuja and two are in Lagos.
Yunusa said, “Except they point out the exact provision of the law that forbids INEC from printing electoral materials abroad, we can’t react formally. But I think the commission is at liberty to do whatever will assist it in bringing about free, fair and credible elections.
“But again, will the materials be secured if they are printed here? If INEC can guarantee the security of these materials, there is nothing wrong if they are printed here too.’’
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