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Author Name: Mohammed Ali Jnr
Number of articles: 23
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INEC must be penalized for patent infringement
Author: Mohammed Ali Jnr | June 25, 2007

That the last general elections were fraught with many irregularities is no longer news. What might be news to many is that the Independent National Electoral Election (INEC) acted with impunity on its contractual obligations to its customers.

As a body widely known to have petite or no respect for the rule of law, the Independent National Electoral Commission almost operated as if it were above the laws of the land. Aside from disobeying court orders, INEC was also found wanting in areas of contractual obligations.

This loathsome side of INEC was brought to fore recently when Bedding Holdings Limited instituted an action against INEC and seven others to compel INEC to compensate her for infringement of her patent right. Bedding Holdings Limited asked the court to confiscate over N3.5 billion balance payment for the production of the transparent ballot boxes used in the last general elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission infringed on the patent right of Bedding Nigeria Limited by using the ballot boxes without the consent of the company.

To further show the little respect INEC has for the laws of the land, it was not represented at the court when the case came up for mentioning. INEC, however, filed an objection asking the court to strike out the suit for the plaintiffís failure to disclose reasonable cause of action.

This is an attempt by INEC to pervert the cause of justice. By throwing out INECís objection, the honourable court must be praised for living up to the expectations of Bedding Holdings Limited in the companyís attempt to pursue its rights.

It is worthy to note that if INEC is allowed to go unpunished with this magnitude of flagrant abuse of power, most individuals and corporate bodies that are interested in doing legitimate business with government agencies will be disillusioned. The countryís image both locally and internationally will wane drastically.

Therefore, our efforts at attracting foreign investors will be an exercise in futility. Or how else can one explain a situation where some government agencies can not be compelled to fulfill its contractual obligations to its customers?

The damage caused by pirates in this country cannot be over-emphasized. The film industry is fighting pirates on a daily basis and pirated goods are being destroyed to put a stop to this ugly trend. The treatment meted out to Bedding Holdings Limited is not different from the harm that pirates are causing to the film industry.

It is common practice these days for some government agencies to request for proposals from contractors on major projects. Once these proposals are submitted by determined contractors, the jobs end up being given to mistresses and lady friends of the chief executives of the organization without the consent of the person whose original idea is being used. This wicked and criminal act is seriously gaining ground. All hands must be on deck to curtail the trend.

A punitive measure against INEC would serve as deterrent to other would be defaulters and also build public confidence in government institutions. At the end of the journey, no public institution would perceive itself as too big to be subjected to the laws of the land.

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