A Kano-based journalist has said he turned down a N700,000 bribe to kill a story in order to change impressions about Nigerian journalists.
Nasiru Zango, who anchors In Da Ranka (If You Are Alive), a popular daily Hausa magazine programme on Freedom Radio, said due to his show’s popularity, he had repeatedly turned down similar monetary inducements from people in the past.
“It is time for change. You know many people look at journalists as corrupt people,” Mr. Zango told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“We are just doing our work and we are ready to expose corruption but it’s unfortunate that many people look at us as brown envelope collectors. There are many journalists who are not corrupt.”
Mr. Zango’s ordeal with the alleged bribe-givers began nine months ago after a top official of the Kano Municipal Local Government approached him to stop mentioning their activities on his programme.
“They were allocating plots of land at Kofar Wambai, a popular textile market in Kano, to different people and the traders were complaining,” he said.
“For instance, if you have a shop, they can come and allocate the frontage to some people. But if you are interested, you’ll have to pay between N4 million and N12 million depending on the size of your shop and the location.
“The traders had gone to court and the court ruled that no local government has the right to allocate plots of land, but they continued because they probably have the backing of the state government.”
Mr. Zango said the traders informed him about the situation and he began reporting on it in his programme.
A few days later, he alleged that the council officials came calling, first offering to allocate land and other inducements to him, but when he did not budge, they sent a divisional police officer after him.
“I met with the DPO and made it clear to him that I wasn’t interested in any offer and he told me he’d send assassins after me. I reported that in my programme,” Mr. Zango said.
After the DPO was transferred out of the police station, the officials approached Mr. Zango through one of his colleagues, who set up a meeting at a popular hotel in Kano where they said “they don’t like the stories in my programme and are ready to pay anything.”
Thereafter, Mr. Zango said he was offered N1.5 million.
“They sent N700,000 through my colleague and began spreading lies that they had bribed me.
“I spoke with a friend of mine who is into activism and he suggested we take the money to EFCC but I told him we should instead go to the Kano State Anti-Corruption because they are closer to us than EFCC.”
Phone calls and text messages to Sani Mai Nagge, the Chairman of the Kofar Wambai market, were not responded to.
But Muhyi Magaji, the Chairman of the Kano State Anti-Corruption and Public Complaints Commission, confirmed during a press conference that they received a cash of N700,000 from Mr. Zango.
Mr. Magaji stated that the money would be presented as evidence during their investigation, according to the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.
“The journalist walked into the office with the money given to him by one of the parties in the case, asking him to stop running the story but his conscience is not at peace with the money.”