18 June 2019

Nigeria: Dollar Scandal - Anti-Graft Agency Didn't Probe Ganduje Because 'Wasn't Involved in Sting'

The head of the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission, Magaji Ramindado, has said the commission could not probe Governor Abdullahi Ganduje's alleged bribery scandal because the agency was "not carried along" in the investigation by the newspaper that reported the case.

Mr Ramindado said the governor's immunity had also barred the commission from taking action.

A video published by the newspaper Daily Nigerian in October 2018 showed Mr Ganduje receiving wads of dollars. The newspaper said the governor collected $5,000 as kickback from a government contractor.

Mr Ganduje said the clip was doctored, but video specialists at PREMIUM TIMES confirmed the material was not fake.

Nigerians have since called for the governor to be investigated. He won a second term despite the scandal.

As governor, Mr Ganduje has constitutionally-provided immunity against prosecution. But he can be investigated pending when he leaves office.

No federal anti-corruption agency, including the EFCC, has said it has investigated the matter.

The Kano anti-corruption agency, the state's equivalent of the EFCC, has also not probed the case.

Speaking on Tuesday at the opening of a two-day meeting on anti-corruption fight in Kano, the chairman of the body, Mr Ramindado, said the commission also failed to act because it did not know the motive of the journalist who released the video.

The meeting, with the theme: "Enhancing Citizens' Effective Participation in the Fight Against Corruption," was organised by Actionaid Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation and member of ActionAid global federation.

The anti-graft agency boss was reacting to allegation that its probe of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was politically motivated.

He said although the agency was established by the state government, it does not was independent.

"On the issue of dollar bribery scandal and the accusation that we have not probed the governor, people have forgotten that governors enjoy immunity," he said.

"And apart from this, how could you undertake sting operation without involving us, yet you want us to be part of the probe? We can't, because we don't know your motive, we don't know whether it is true or not. For you to have gone to the extent of releasing the video, you could have got anti-graft agencies involved. It doesn't mean it should necessarily be our own agency. But EFCC and ICPC are there and they could back the claim," he said.

The chairman said his agency has investigated a serving commissioner and another permanent secretary, adding that one of the cases is currently pending at the court of appeal.

"We have investigated judiciary institutions, we have investigated the traditional institutions. I enter government house and I make arrest. We don't care whether people will say we are part of the government or not. I have investigated a serving commissioner and even a serving permanent secretary. Google the case of the Commissioner for Lands, Kano State, we are currently in the Appeal Court over the matter," he added.

Mr Ramindado also said the allegation of a gorilla swallowing money at a zoo in Kano was not true. He said preliminary investigations showed that there was a robbery incident at the zoo on June 8.

He, however, alleged that the management of the zoo could be found wanting for keeping such huge resources at the zoo in spite of the treasury single account system being operated by the state.

Welcoming guests to the programme, the Country Director of the organisation, Ene Obi, urged participants including grassroots women to be involved in the fight against corruption.

She advised parents to always query sources of wealth of their children and raise relevant questions when necessary about suspicious issues.

The keynote speaker at the programme was the lawyer, Femi Falana.

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