INEC: Jega pays contractors N300m for discarded 2011 ballot papers

By The Citizen

Tongues are now wagging within the top hierarchy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) where its chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has ordered the payment of N300 million   for the printing of discarded ballots papers in the bungled but rescheduled 2011 general elections.

The names of the contractors who were awarded the job of printing the electoral materials were given as Abhal Ventures Limited and Kalamazoo Security Solutions Limited as shown by the vouchers with which the payments were processed.

It would be recalled that the nation was jolted when the INEC Chairman announced its inability to continue with the parliamentary elections earlier scheduled for April 2, 2011 citing massive logistic failure. The electoral body chairman then disclosed the plan to postpone the national Assembly elections and rescheduled it for April 4, a development that affected the entire elections time table as a result of which fresh dates were announced for the remaining elections.

However, major opposition parties kicked against the new April 4 date and the INEC decided to adjust its time table and push forward all the elections by one week, with the parliamentary elections  held on April 9, 2011. Interestingly, Jega had addressed a world press the night before the botched election day when he told the world; 'we are ready, everything is in place'. It therefore beats the imaginations, when on the election day, there were reports of either late or outright non arrival of election materials in many states.

In some instances, where materials arrived eventually, it was discovered that logos of some political parties were missing on the ballot papers forcing the electoral body to announce postponement.

INEC Chairman had explained that the electoral materials printers failed to deliver as agreed accusing them of sabotaging the elections by printing ballots without the logo of some political parties.

Jega said going ahead with the election would have serious judicial implications as affected parties might head to court to seek nullification of the elections.

It was learnt that the Commission after a management meeting then decided not to pay the contractors for the breach of contracts.

It was gathered that many top staff of the Commission were however taken aback when Jega suddenly instructed the accounts department to release N300 million to the two contractors being payment for the discarded materials for the botched elections.

Some of them condemned the payment and wondered why the INEC Chairman would capitulate from the Commission's earlier position of not paying for the unused electoral papers.

Investigations revealed that the plan to pay the contractors was one of the reasons Professor Jega last April 9, reorganised the directorate cadre of the INEC and posted out some of the directors perceived to likely be a threat to that decision.

Also, there has been disaffection within the Commission when the INEC Chairman as part of the restructuring of the organization issued an internal memo barring certain directors from applying for the position of INEC Secretary after the last June retirement of Abdulahi Kaugama, the immediate past occupier of the office.

Efforts to get the INEC spokesman to react to the report were futile as did not respond to call and text messages sent to his phone on the issue. – Sunday Sun.