DOLLAR BRIBE SCANDAL:HOW GANDUJE FAILED IN BID TO STOP INVITATION TO APPEAR BEFORE KANO ASSEMBLY

•How gov failed to stop invitation to appear before lawmakers – Source

By Abdulmumin Murtala, Kano

Kano State, the stronghold of the ruling party at the federal level, All Progressives Congress, APC, and where Governor  Abdullahi Ganduje has  promised  to give President Muhammadu Buhari five million votes in the 2019  general elections,  is enmeshed  in  a  row between the publisher of an online news medium, Daily Nigerian, Mr. Jafaar Jaafar, and  Ganduje.

Ganduje

It all started  like a joke when Jaafar reported  that he was in possession of video clips showing a governor from the North-West collecting kickback from contractors. He disclosed  later that the governor involved was that of Kano, saying  Ganduje  was video recorded receiving wraps of dollars to the tune of $5m from contractors. The publisher  explained that the aggrieved contractors, who allegedly paid between 15%  and  25% of the worth of contracts to the governor, accepted to do the video recording whenever they went to pay the kickback to the governor.

Jaafar was challenged to produce the videos by various interested sections of the society. He  released the first  on October 14 with a flute playing at the background  and  showing the governor allegedly collecting wraps of dollars and stashing it in his pockets.

The video was  challenged  by some groups and a political undertone was given to it. Some even tried to link it to the former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso because Jaafar had worked with the governor as a media assistant. But the  allegation was debunked by Kwankwaso’s  spokesperson, Hajiya Binta Spikin, when she spoke to Sunday Vanguard in Kano.

To further establish the authenticity of his claim as a whistle blower, Jaafar released another video clip allegedly showing the governor, this time without a cap on his head, dressed in Kaftan, collecting and stashing wraps of dollars in his pocket on  October 15. In the second video,  voices  are  heard and  transcribed on the screen for  viewers.

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Threat

The publisher then announced that his life  was  being threatened and went into hiding with his family. He also disclosed  that he had 15 video clips of the alleged bribe episode with nine showing the face of the governor while six only show  parts of his body. The issue generated public interest  with different comments coming from different interest camps.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) planned a protest to take place on  October  29 to call for the investigation and prosecution of  Ganduje  but was barred by the state police command. Other groups with political interest also condemned the video clips as cloned as they assured the governor  of their unalloyed support.

The response from the state government was that it was suing Jaafar  for defamation while the opposition insisted that it was an issue concerning the governor as an individual and not the state and  therefore he should be the one to respond.

Kano State House of Assembly then came in with the idea of raising an  ad  hoc committee to investigate the video clips and the committee was set  up. The state government suspended its plan of going to court to allow for the investigation by the state Assembly.

Even as the police barred protest in support of Jaafar, primary school pupils were organized to protest in support of Jafaar at the Assembly on the day Jaafar was invited to a public hearing there.

The publisher appeared before the committee on October 25 where he was grilled on the authenticity of the clips. He told the committee that he would not  reveal the source of the clips while he said he was ready to swear by the Holy Quran that it is the governor in the clips collecting kickback from contractors.

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Invitation

Meanwhile, Ganduje was said to have had  a meeting with the Speaker of the Assembly, Kabiru Rurum, and some top government officials, pleading that he should not to be invited to testify before the House committee. The governor was said to be angry with the Speaker when an invitation was sent to him to appear before the committee on Friday, November 2 with part of it saying:  “It is in that regard I on behalf of the Committee respectfully write to request your response at an investigative hearing relating to the allegations to provide the Committee with your perspective on the matter. Furthermore a written, signed and dated statement by your Excellency is required as part of the proceedings on or before the date of the hearing. You may wish to be accompanied by your lawyers to the hearing. Enclosed here are the video clips for your perusal.”

But Ganduje sent his Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, to present a written statement to the committee. The commissioner simply said that his principal denied receiving bribe, adding that the governor had never collected a bribe before and will never collect in his life.

He  further gave the matter a political undertone saying that it was a deliberate act with the intention to reduce Ganduje’s popularity and  take undue advantage of him in the 2019 elections. No questions were asked and the written statement was submitted to the committee.

Non-governmental organizations like the African Center for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, have called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices  Commission, ICPC, among  other security agencies  to probe the $5m bribe allegation against  Ganduje. It described the video clips as too glaring to ignore.

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