Nigerian rights activists and groups have demanded an independent probe into the bribery allegation involving the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
Mr Ganduje appeared in a series of videos, receiving money in dollars alleged to be bribe amounting to about $5million.
The money was given by persons believed to be contractors to the state government.
The first set of at least 15 clips in possession of online-based Daily Nigerian was published on Sunday afternoon by the platform.
The two minutes video was recorded in 2017 in what Daily Nigerian described as a sting operation aimed at beaming a spotlight on the governor’s alleged penchant for contract racketeering.
The governor has debunked the video as “cloned” and threatened a sweeping lawsuit against its publisher.
But PREMIUM TIMES’ graphics experts who examined the video corroborated the position of Daily Nigerian, which earlier said its internal and independent graphics analysts have authenticated the clips.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the National Contact for Transparency International (TI), in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, demanded an independent probe into the $5 million bribery allegation.
”While we commend the effort and ability of the Kano State House of Assembly at setting up an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged bribery, we are worried that the outcome of such investigation would not command public trust and credibility except if handled by independent and competent ICT professionals with track record of integrity.
”We are confident an independent inquiry outside the instrumentality of Kano State governance structure will, to a large extent, assure Nigerians of fearless fact-findings on the true nature of the video clip in fulfilment of the Federal Government’s readiness to combat corruption within and outside the ruling party. We must, therefore, reiterate that anything short of an independent investigation would seem stage-managed before the public.”
Also in the statement, the group highlighted the harassment of citizens who tried to protest against the governor.
”We are also not unaware of the infringement of human rights, intimidation and harassment of the whistle-blowers and citizens who stepped out to peacefully protest this allegation against the Governor.
”We find this disheartening and reiterates our persistent demand for the adoption of a Whistle-blower Protection Law. Citizens’ right to freedom of association and expression should in no way be muzzled in this issue.
”We call on the President and the Inspector General of Police to guarantee the rights of the people for a peaceful protest and ensure lives are secured.
The group called on the governor to step aside and allow for investigation of the scandal.
”We call for the governor to immediately step aside to allow high-level transparency, accountability and rule of law in the process of the investigation and prevent the possible influence of the “fact-finding”. This will guarantee fairness and discourage undue interference in the investigation.
”We call on the National Assembly and anti-corruption agencies to live up to the expectations and trust placed in them by Nigerians in ensuring perpetrators of corrupt practice are brought to book while guaranteeing adequate protection for the whistle-blowing effort through enabling policies implementation and transition into legislation.
”We also call on the Ruling Party to stay silent on the issue if the party is really going to be believed that it is fighting corruption.
”CISLAC remains committed to monitoring the government at all levels to ensure that she fulfils her promises to the citizens of our great country.
The national coordinator of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Hassan Taiwo, also weighed in on the allegation.
”It does not come to me as a surprise. it just confirms, contrary to what the Buhari government would like us to believe, that corruption is going down under his administration. The Ganduje scandal confirms that there are as many crooks in the Buhari government at all levels.
”It does not come to us – especially those of us that are very conversant with the issues – it does not come to us as a surprise. One thing that is sure is that you cannot beat corruption without ending convictions.”
Mr Taiwo said ”Our fundamental argument about the anti-corruption war of Obasanjo government, Yaradua government, Jonathan government and as well as the pretences towards fighting corruption in this administration has always been that the system beats corruption.
”And therefore, to fight corruption also requires sanctions to be taken to end the system of privatisation, the system whereby the commonwealth is utilised to enrich, the system whereby only a few people enjoy 80 per cent of the resources of the country while the rest of us continue to wallow in poverty.
“When that system is fought and beaten, that is when structural corruption can seriously be fought.
“And what is happening in Kano State only further confirms once again that there are many crooks in the Buhari administration. It is not new what Ganduje has done, we should not forget that in 2012 a member of the house of reps who was the chairman for the investigation on the oil subsidy was equally infringed.
”In such, not much has changed. The more you look the less you see the fight on corruption. Nothing much has changed. The working people in the country need to call for a new Nigeria.
The co-founder of Connected Development (CODE) Hamzat Lawal, however, said Nigerians should allow the law to take its course.
”We need to let the law take its course. If an executive governor who is entrusted with public resources is caught up with corruption, the state assembly who is saddled with the responsibility to investigate and start proceeding of impeachment should do that, as soon as possible.
”And if they find out that truly he was involved in it, he should be impeached and the EFCC should arrest and prosecute him,” Mr Lawal said.
”Also if they find out the video was doctored then the EFCC and the police have to investigate the case, but we should let the law take its course. Let the issue be properly investigated.
‘‘It is important to keep the general public informed on all the development unfolding on the $5 million bribe by the governor from contractors.”