The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) has urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to activate Section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act (as amended) for the investigation of the alleged $5 million bribery allegations against Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje.
In a letter forwarded to the CJN and signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the Resource Centre said it is requesting the office of the CJN to give effect to the provision of Section 52 of the ICPC Act 2000 (as amended) in the promotion of accountability, probity and anti-Corruption agenda of the government and the judiciary under your able leadership.
The provisions of Section 52 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act states: “52.-(1) When an allegation of corruption or anything purporting to contravene any provision of this Act is made against the President or the Vice-President of Nigeria or against any State Government or Deputy Governor, the Chief Justice of the Federation shall, if satisfied that sufficient cause has been shown upon an application on notice supported by an affidavit setting out the facts on which the allegation is based, authorize an independent counsel (who shall be a legal practitioner of not less than fifteen years standing) to investigate the allegation and make a report of his findings to the National Assembly in the case of the President or Vice-President and to the relevant State House of Assembly in the case of the State Government or the Deputy Governor.
“(2) The Commission shall be enjoined to fully cooperate with such independent counsel and provide all facilities necessary for such independent counsel to carry out his functions.”
The letter reads: “Your lordship, in this particular case, we wish to invite your office to activate this inherent power as vested on you by the ICPC Act to launch a thorough investigation into the lingering scandalous $5 Million dollar bribery allegations against the current Governor of Kano State, who based on a series of video revelations to the media by one Mr. Jaafar Jaafar, a Journalist and publisher of Daily Nigerian, has been found using his official position to obtain and or extort bribes from contractors carrying out various jobs for the state.
“According to a report by the Vanguard Newspaper published on the 1st day of November, 2018, two similar videos were earlier released by the aforementioned Mr. Jaafar Jaafar; wherein the Governor was shown allegedly collecting bribes in dollars and stuffing the wads of money in his white ‘Agbada’ also known as ‘babariga’ cloth.
“Dr. Ganduje had denied the videos, saying they were photoshops. However, it is worth noting that Mr. Jaafar had last month, honoured the invitation of the Kano State House of Assembly investigating the bribery scandal, where he tendered many other video clips showing the allegedly Governor collecting bribes from contractor at different times. Mr. Jaafar also at the said investigative hearing reiterated the allegation, explaining how a contractor working for the Kano State government had agreed to attach cameras to his kaftan in order to capture the videos. He also stressed that the video clips were authentic and had not been doctored in any way.
“It is also reported that another shocking video has subsequently emerged showing the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, in black Kaftan, allegedly collecting bribe in wads of dollars from a contractor and though the previous video had no audio, the recent and trending one has the audio voice of the Governor requesting for bribe from a contractor.
“The video which has interpretations in words claimed the Governor collected over Two Hundred Million Naira. The video shows the Governor darting his eyes, perhaps towards the door every now and then to ensure nobody was coming in.
“The video also showed the happy governor packing the money into a paper bag under his table just as the names of contractors, the contracts and those who have either paid or were yet to pay up their bribes to him were mentioned in the video. The video which has sparked outrage on social media has got many calling for the impeachment of the Governor.
“The Kano State House of Assembly investigative committee set up to probe the allegations has summoned the Governor to appear before it, while also asking the Governor to come with his lawyers if he so wishes and also requested for a written, signed and dated statement of the Governor on or before the date of the hearing. The committee also said that copies of the video clips showing the Governor receiving bribes in dollars were also sent to him for ‘perusal.’
“It is however disheartening that up until the time of this letter, the Governor has neglected, failed and or refused to appear before the said committee and rather sent the State Commissioner of Information, Mohammed Garba to represent him at the hearing.
“Learned Law Lord, the foregoing provisions of the ICPC Act is self explanatory on the inherent power of the Chief Justice of Federation in matters such as that in reference. It is a very potent instrumentality for curtailing, if not completely eradicating, theft, kleptocracy, misappropriation and all other forms of corrupt practices prohibited by the various national and international legal instruments against corruption and illicit assets.
“In line with the current administration’s commitment to zero corrupt practices by public officials, we therefore call your office to invoke this power and authorise an independent Counsel to investigate these allegations and the report of such investigation be submitted to Kano State House of Assembly timeous action to serve as deterrent to other corrupt officials.
“We look forward to your usual positive response and action. Attached is an affidavit in support of this petition, as required by section 52 (1) of the ICPC Act.”