Even as video evidence appearing to show him receiving dollar bribe mounts, Kano State Governor Abdulahi Ganduje has continued to insist that the viral clips are doctored to portray him in bad light. But Ganduje would need to do more than just pointing accusing fingers at his political enemies for his ordeal. He has a lot of work to do to wriggle out of the unfolding scandal, which may ultimately not only cost him his job, but may lead to his prosecution.
A little over a week ago, when the first bribe video hit the airwaves, the governor grandstanded, as is typical of politicians in such circumstances, boasting that he would sue the publisher of the online news portal, Daily Nigerian, Jaafar Jaafar, who uploaded the video on the internet.
The governor claimed the video was doctored and pronto, his media handlers and consultants immediately went to town with menacing fervor to try to puncture the videos through their in-house experts and excitedly faulting its originality from all angles.
But this did not deter the state House of Assembly, which had said it would investigate the video and would not hesitate to impeach the governor if it found out the videos were actually authentic and not manipulated to malign the governor.
Consequent upon this, the state legislature invited Mr. Jaafar Jaafar to come and give evidence about the video’s authenticity. And he did. But the publisher, during his appearance before the Assembly committee, compounded Ganduje’s plight, when he claimed he had more video evidence of Ganduje personally taking bribe from contractors.
He told the House he would be willing to release more of such video evidence if need be. Even though he alleged threats and attempts on his life for exposing corruption and speaking truth to power, he had since released more videos, some of which now show clearly Ganduje accepting bribe during a conversation with the bribe-giver in Hausa language.
One of the latest bribe videos, which ran for two minutes and twenty seconds and dated 2017-01-18, had the following chat between Ganduje and the contractor at a place that could pass for the governor’s office or lodge. Excerpts:
Bribe Giver: Sir, the Accountant-General still hasn’t paid us.
Ganduje: She has travelled, but when she comes back, she will pay. How much is the money?
Bribe Giver: We completed the deputy governor’s office without a single payment. It is N35 million. While Dandanshe Road is N220 million, Rochas Okorocha Road is N69 million.
Ganduje: Okay, when she comes back, I will tell her to pay.
Bribe Giver: Toh! Power Hill will bring $100,000. It was not ready when I collected this payment.
Suffice it to say that there were other parts of the conversation that were not captured in the translation. But the short take above aptly encapsulates the very transaction of bribe-giving and taking, between Ganduje and the contractor, whose identity was not revealed in the video.
The governor, as seen in the video, was taking the monies in dollars from the contractor, counted them and kept them in a place beside his couch.
Importantly, also, what the camaraderie in the video depicted was that the governor and the contractor had been doing this for a long time and this could not be described as a one-off exercise. In order words, such stories like, ‘it was a sting operation’ can no longer fly at this stage, so long as it was not done with the knowledge of security agencies.
In practically all the videos so far released by Jaafar Jaafar, Ganduje was seen sporting different attires, meaning those monies were paid at different times, which further confirmed a long standing bribery affair between the duo.
What this implies in essence is that once a taker had been established in a case of bribery, then, there must have been a giver too, both of whom are liable under the law. Therefore, while Ganduje may currently enjoy immunity, that is, if the assembly refuses to act against him, the contractor has no such privilege and should have been taken in by now by security agencies for questioning if they were up to their brief. Indeed, he would be very helpful in the investigation of this embarrassing turn of event.
Short of denying Ganduje and his partners the right to be presumed innocent until proven, it would take more than gallivanting or name-calling or even ascribing this to political machinations of his enemies to wriggle out of this shameful scandal. The entire burden of proof is certainly on him and his partner and for as long as they cannot defend this, it is probably time to go, honourably for the governor and allow the law to take its course, while his partner also faces his music, squarely.
It is however worthy of mention that Ganduje has, for the umpteenth time, denied collecting bribe from any contractor as alleged by Daily Nigerian. He said this while testifying before the House committee investigating the allegation on Friday, insisting the video clips were aimed at tarnishing his image, politically.
Represented by the Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, Ganduje complained that the allegation was injurious. But Chairman of the committee, Hon Baffa Babba Danagundi, assured the public that justice would be done to all parties involved.
Further expatiating on the videos to THISDAY last night, Garba questioned the credibility of the man behind the releases.
“The credibility of the Publisher of the video is questionable. We believe the videos are doctored and we continue to stand by that. The same Jaafar Jaafar had once made serious allegations of corruption against former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, alleging the former governor had bought houses in Dubai and other places. The allegations were thoroughly investigation and found to be false.
“This same Jaafar also once published purported nude pictures of Emir Sanusi. He later turned round to debunk the pictures. We are in the election season, so this is all politics and we believe all this will blow over. Don’t forget this guy was an aide to former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso. He is also a member of Kwankwasiyya movement. When he was coming to testify at the House of Assembly, he initially wore a red cap but later removed it. So, its politics, we are in the election season,” he explained.
It should be said, at this juncture, that it would not be smart that the governor allows Jaafar Jaafar release more videos, which by implication could further dent him, more so as a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which rode to power on the strength of integrity and anti-corruption. This unsavoury experience might go down memory lane a major corruption dip on the path of the federal government especially, that the presidency and the APC had since kept quiet, thus stifling the security agencies from living up to billings.
For Ganduje, therefore, the burden of proof is a weighty one that must not only be established but be seen as been so put down beyond every reasonable doubt, because he is generally seen to have committed this crime in the most indecent and primitive fashion ever recorded in the history of the country if the videos are anything to go by.
Besides, the Assembly must go all out to do that which is right and just, including involving forensic analysis and not be tempted to see this as a political opening to deal with perceived enemies. That would colour the very essence of this rare opportunity to make history. This is beyond politics but a major national concern that must be handled with utmost patriotism, for posterity and the image of the legislature.