Udora Orizu in Abuja
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari over failure to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations of bribery against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, as contained in the widely circulated video clips purportedly showing Ganduje receiving bribe.
Last month, SERAP asked the president to direct the investigation of Ganduje, stating that there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for him to face prosecution at the expiration of his tenure as Governor.
The group also sought protection for the journalist, Jaafar Jaafar, who reportedly published the video clips.
However, SERAP said since the receipt of its letter and to date, President Buhari had failed to grant its requests. Also, a Kano State high court last week stopped the Kano State House of Assembly from investigating the $5 million bribery allegation against Mr Ganduje.
SERAP said it was seeking an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus directing and/or compelling Buhari to immediately direct the investigation of allegations of bribery against Ganduje.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2055/18 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, the group said, the applicant’s requests were not onerous but simply based on issues of public interest, good governance, transparency and accountability and it was in the interest of justice to grant this application, as the respondent had nothing to lose if the application was granted.
The suit is also seeking an order to compel Buhari to instruct appropriate security and law enforcement agencies to ensure the protection and guarantee the safety and security of journalist Jaafar Jaafar.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Ms. Bamisope Adeyanju, read in part: “Investigating allegations of bribery against Ganduje would be entirely consistent with the provisions of section 15 subsection (5) of the 1999 Constitution, which requires the government or the Respondent to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, regardless of the state where such practices are taking place. The Constitution defines ‘government’ to include federal, state and local governments.
“Growing allegations of corruption against many state governors have not been investigated and several of the governors involved are getting away with their alleged crimes. Granting the reliefs sought would assist the Respondent to succeed in his fight against corruption and help to combat corruption among many state governors, who continue to allegedly mismanage their states’ resources with almost absolute impunity.”
“The Attorney-General of the Federation has power conferred on him by section 174(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and anticorruption agencies have the powers to act on the allegations of bribery against Mr Ganduje for the sake of discharging their mandates, ensuring transparency and accountability, promoting the common good, peace, order and good government of the federation (which includes Kano State).”
The group noted that although primarily a matter of concern for Kano State, the allegations of bribery against Mr Ganduje have assumed such a proportion as to become a matter of concern to the federation as a whole, and therefore, to the government of the respondent.
It reiterated that a sitting governor can be investigated under Nigerian laws and any criminal allegation against a sitting governor can and should be investigated pending the time the governor leaves office and loses immunity.
SERAP expressed dismay at the respondent’s failure to instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and anti-corruption agencies to investigate Mr Ganduje
“The Respondent failed, neglected and refused to instruct the Attorney General of the Federation or anti-corruption agencies to investigate Mr Ganduje over the alleged bribery. Given his anticorruption commitments, the Respondent ought to have acted on SERAP’s requests to improve transparency and accountability among State Governors,” SERAP said.