Governor Umar Ganduje has threatened lawsuit after a news website reported that he had been caught receiving at least $5 million in kickbacks from contractors in Kano State.
A statement from Kano information commissioner said Mr Ganduje was a victim of a carefully manipulated video designed by opposition elements to deface his image as a crooked governor rather than a hard-working and compassionate leader.
“We wish to state that there is no iota of truth to these allegations and if indeed there is any such alleged video, it is at best cloned,” Muhammad Garba said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning.
Mr Garba said the video comes as prominent Nigerians are becoming increasingly susceptible to manufactured video clips being used to cast them in a bad light before the public.
He also alleged that there was an attempt to blackmail the governor which failed, prompting those the commissioner said were opposition elements to push the video out.
PREMIUM TIMES has not seen the video, but the website that first reported it said it existed. Daily Nigerian, an online news platform based in Abuja, reported that Mr Ganduje received up to $5 million in a series of questionable deals with state contractors.
The website said it is in possession of three sets of videos shot on several days, and all showed how Mr Ganduje was receiving bribes from state contractors. One of the videos showed the governor roll nearly $3 million (25 percent) under his dress, Daily Nigerian alleged.
The website said the videos had been authenticated by its internal and independent graphics experts, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a thorough investigation after viewing the clips.
The police and the State Security Service did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments about their investigation into the video.
But the allegations are now being strongly denied by Mr Ganduje, with his office threatening grave consequences against the publisher.
“To further prove that the online media is bent on discrediting, blackmailing and assassinating the character of the Governor, the online media has yet to reveal the identity of the giver of the bribe, who is also suppose to be a culprit in the eye of the law,” the commissioner said.
“We are therefore calling on the general public to be vigilant as we heard from good authority that many of such cloned videos involving highly placed persons considered as obstacle to the opposition agenda ahead of 2019 will be released in piecemeal.”
“The government of Kano state is taking this matter seriously, and will exploit every appropriate and legal avenue to ensure that it gets to the root of the matter and the perpetrators are brought to book,” it added.
The statement listed Emir of Kano, Governor Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa and Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris as being some of the recent victims of cloned videos in circulation.
While it was not immediately clear which videos of the emir and the governor are in dispute, the footage of Mr Idris which the commissioner said was doctored had been widely adjudged as genuine.
The video, which went viral in May, showed Mr Idris struggling to read from a prepared speech. The police chief reluctantly issued a one-off, off-the-cuff denial that the video was not him, but not many believed his claim, with some medical experts virtually diagnosing his stuttering as dyslexia.
Daily Nigerian said it would soon publish videos of Mr Ganduje receiving the bribes, but there are concerns about the safety of the platform’s publisher.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said on Wednesday night that Jafaar Jafaar has gone into hiding after receiving threats to his life.
The foremost media advocacy group told PREMIUM TIMES it would take up concerns over Mr Jafaar’s safety with Kano State authorities.
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