Alleged kickback: SERAP gives Buhari ultimatum to torchlight Ganduje

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) as well as other appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe the allegations of bribery against Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.

According to SR, it  gave Mr. Buhari 14 days to investigate the governor, and premised its position on the widely circulated video clips showing Ganduje receiving money from a contractor.

For publishing one of the video clips, Jafar Jafar, Publisher of Daily Nigerian appeared before a panel set up by the Kano State House of Assembly, and he accused the governor of receiving kickbacks from contractors.

The governor was also scheduled to appear before the Assembly on the matter, but sent his Commissioner for Information to represent him.

However, in a statement on Sunday, Bamisope Adeyanju, SERAP Senior Legal Adviser, urged the Federal Government and anti-graft agencies to ensure Jafar’s safety, and also called for Ganduje’s prosecution at the end of his tenure as governor.

The statement read: “Given the history of corruption in Nigeria, especially unresolved allegations of grand corruption against many state governors, your government cannot and should not look the other way regarding the allegations against Mr Ganduje. Any allegation of bribery and abuse of power in any state of Nigeria is of concern to every Nigerian, and should therefore, be of concern to your government.

“The obligations of your government to combat corruption in Nigeria extend to all the three tiers of government, namely, the federal government, state government and local government. 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 your government.

“Take the recommended steps within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel your government to act in the public interest. Taking the recommended steps would help to enhance your government’s fight against corruption and contribute hugely to promoting the public interest, the interest of justice as well as prevent any abuse of the legal process. Any failure and/or refusal to act would undermine the goal of your government’s anti-corruption fight and tacitly serve to encourage persistent allegations of corruption among many state governors to continue with almost absolute impunity.

“Vigorously seeking to enforce anticorruption legislation and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party against alleged corrupt state governors, will show that your government is with concerned with the overall well-being of the federation and willing and able to enforce important constitutional principles.

“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 ensuring transparency and accountability, and promoting the common good, peace, order and good government of the federation (which includes Kano State).

“Taking prompt action on the allegations of bribery against the governor would also be entirely consistent with the provisions of section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution, which requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, regardless of the state where such practices take place. Section 15 specifically defines ‘government’ to include the government of the federation, or of any state, or of a local government council or any person who exercises power or authority on its behalf.

“Section 61(2) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) Act also provides that public officers accused of bribery may be prosecuted by the appropriate authority for such an offence.”

The organisation also expressed worry that allegations against “many state governors have not been investigated” and stated that even if governors enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution, they don’t enjoy immunity from investigation.

The statement continued: “SERAP is concerned that growing allegations of corruption including bribery against many state governors have not been investigated and that several of the governors involved are getting away with their alleged crimes.

“We note that while a governor may enjoy immunity from arrest and prosecution, he does not enjoy immunity from investigation. Any criminal allegation against a sitting governor including Mr Ganduje can and should be investigated pending the time the governor leaves office and loses immunity. The findings of such investigation can also be the basis for initiating impeachment proceedings against the governor.”

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