Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State is yet to act after a state official was caught defrauding clerics.
Ali-Baba Agama-Lafiya, the Special Adviser on Religious Affairs to Mr Ganduje, was arrested three months ago by the state’s anti-corruption commission.
The commission also retrieved the stolen money from him and returned it to the rightful owners.
He was accused of diverting millions of naira meant for disbursement to some selected Islamic clerics and imams who participated in the special prayer organised by the Kano government against the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Mr Ganduje had on July 30 invited over 300 Islamic clerics and Imams to the state government house for a prayer session, seeking God’s intervention in the fight against COVID-19 and insecurity ravaging the parts of the north.
The state’s Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Muhammad Tahar, confirmed that the governor had directed that N50,000 be given to each of the clerics that participated in the prayer session which was done publicly at Africa house, inside government house.
The accused aide, Mr Agama-Lafiya, who coordinated the prayer session, rather than give each of the clerics N50,000 as instructed, he gave them N5,000 and pocketed N45, 000 per head.
‘Why we cannot prosecute suspect’
The head of the state’s Anti-Corruption Commission, Muhyi Magaji, said the agency received the complaints from some of the defrauded victims, and swiftly responded by arresting the governor’s aide.
Mr Magaji said the money was also retrieved from him.
He said the agency investigated Mr Agama-Lafiya and found out that he defrauded the clerics N45,000 each, retrieved the money and gave back to the rightful owners which, he said, is the main goal of the agency
The anti-corruption commission, who investigated the matter in August, said it was more concerned to retrieve and return to those who were cheated instead of prosecuting the offenders in a court of law ”because we are doing it for the sake of Allah,” Mr Magaji said
‘Why we are silent’
The Kano state commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, told PREMIUM TIMES that the government has done the needful by not meddling in the activities of the anti-corruption commission.
Mr Garba said the state government was at the forefront in the fight against corruption and social injustice, saying the case of Mr Agama-Lafiya, an aide to the governor, has proven that the government is committed to the course.
”The government didn’t take any action on the suspect because the anti-corruption commission didn’t recommend that the official should be penalized or sacked. They have done their work and nobody interfered which is how it is supposed to be,” Mr Garba said
The official told Freedom Radio that his intention was to reach other clerics to benefit from the deducted N45,000.
He, however, admitted that the deduction was not part of the rules of engaging the prayer warriors.
“I did that to include more beneficiaries because there are those Imams that were not uninvited who prayed at homes and mosques who deserve to receive the money too, which is why I deducted the said amount,” Mr Agama-Lafiya said.
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