Some civil society organisations have called on the federal government to protect whistleblowers in Kano State against victimisation.
In a statement signed by six groups, they referred to video recordings of the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, receiving wads of dollars from persons said to be contractors.
The videos, which were published by an online Newspaper, Daily Nigerian in 2018, showed Mr Ganduje promising to talk to the state’s Accountant General on the outstanding payments.
The Kano State House of Assembly proceeded to investigate the matter. It invited the publisher of the Newspaper, Jaafar Jaafar, and took his statement.
The probe was, however, stalled in November by a high court of Kano State at the instance of Mr Ganduje.
The Kano governor also sued Daily Nigerian and Mr Jafaar, claiming N3 billion in damages. He asked the court to compel Mr Jafaar and Daily Nigerian to write and broadcast a public apology to the governor.
On January 19, the Kano State government revoked three contracts awarded to Tiamin Multi Services Ltd, a company belonging to Aminu Mohammed. Mr Mohammed is believed to be the contractor behind the videos showing Mr Ganduje receiving money from contractors.
The three projects were worth N1.6 billion.
Findings by this newspaper indicate that Tiamin’s managing director, Mr Mohammed, was the one who filmed the videos while delivering the cash to the governor at different times.
Federal Government’s Disappointing Approach
The groups expressed disappointment at the federal government for failing to demonstrate its commitment to fight against corruption “by condemning and prosecuting such high profile malfeasance.”
“We keenly anticipated the response of the government and its anti-corruption agencies to this all too important test case.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we had expected that the government would consider this an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against corruption through condemning and prosecuting this high-profile malfeasance as a clear warning that the Buhari administration is serious and decisive in dealing with corruption no matter the persons involved.
“We regret to announce that what has actually happened since the video went public, is the exact opposite,” part of the statement read.
The groups also frowned at the revocation of the contracts to Mr Mohammed’s company, fearing that certain categories of persons are shielded from the government’s ‘war’ on corruption.
“For a government that created incentives to encourage Nigerians to report corruption through its whistleblower policy, the fate of these whistleblowers – Daily Nigerian, Mr Jafaar Jafaar and the contractor who took the risk of recording the video – discourages anyone from further reporting corruption.
“As it stands, the contractor has lost the contracts he won and Mr Jafaar and his Daily Nigerian could be shut down and ridiculed if it loses the suit filed by the governor. Already, Mr Jafaar and Daily Nigerian are incurring huge costs in legal expenses for doing the right thing.
“We call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to step up and champion this cause which Mr Jafaar has very nobly begun. It is important that he is given every support needed to ensure that he is not victimized.
“Similarly, we call on the federal government to extend the protection and support which its Whistle Blower Policy promises to Mr Jafaar and the contractor. These persons are currently being victimized for doing the right thing. The government has the responsibility of demonstrating to the country and the world that it is truly poised to fight corruption,” it said.
The groups warned that the manner the affair is being handled is a grave disincentive for fighting corruption.
“It should not be seen that the fight against corruption can be sacrificed in preference of political expediency. This will be a death blow for the country and those of us who have willingly supported this fight.”
The groups who made this call are Centre for Social Studies and Development- We the People, Social Action, Center for Awareness on Justice and Accountability, Youth Alive Foundation, Youth Anti-Corruption Network and Center for Development Support Initiative.
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