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Ganduje's bribery scandal does not concern Buhari - Presidency

The president's media aide believes there's no reason for him to interfere in a state matter.

President Muhammadu Buhari

The governor has been in the news over the past couple of weeks after the publisher of Daily Nigerian, Ja'afar Ja'afar, alleged that he regularly received bribes from contractors handling projects in the state.

In a series of videos in Ja'afar's possession, the governor was alleged to have received a total of $5 million in installments from a certain contractor on several occasions. Four different video clips have gone viral on social media showing the governor accepting bundles of dollar notes from a yet-to-be-identified contractor.

In the wake of the scandal, many Nigerians have called on the president to act on the allegations. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)recently wrote an open letter to the president urging him to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, or appropriate anti-graft agencies to investigate the allegations.

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However, while speaking during an interview on Channels Television's Politics Today on Sunday, November 4, 2018, President Buhari's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the president has no business interfering in the matter in its current state.

He said the president will take a back seat while the Kano State House of Assembly will investigate the allegations. He also hinted that federal anti-graft agencies might be investigating the governor.

He said, "At times in Nigeria, it pays us to ask for true federalism. And then, at some other times, it pays us to ask the federal government to also interfere in state matters in a way that is not in consonance with true federalism.

"That is the Kano State matter and it is being investigated by the Kano State House of Assembly. It's not unlikely that some anti-graft agencies are also investigating.

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"What then concerns the president at this point. Why must the president dabble into it at this point. Wouldn't it be contrary to the kind of federalism some people had always asked for?

"I'm sure at some point, SERAP must have asked for true federalism in this country. So, is it in consonance with true federalism if the president dabbles into that Kano matter at this point?

"Let's wait for investigation to run its course and then see if the federal government, through the anti-graft agencies, will be involved or not."

Ganduje denies allegations

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Ganduje was recently invited for questioning by the state's House of Assembly panel investigating bribery allegations against him Even though he was directed to appear before the committee on Friday, November 2, he failed to show up but sent the state's Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Garba, to represent him.

While addressing the committee, Garba said the allegations against the governor are false. He also dismissed the videos as doctored.

Ganduje's counsel, Ma'aruf Yakasai, told the committee that the governor has neglected to sue Ja'afar for defamation so as to allow the House of Assembly to handle the issue.

Chairman of the committee, Bappa Dan'agundi, disclosed that lawyers of Ganduje and Jaafar will meet with graphic experts to watch the video clips on Tuesday, November 6.

How Ganduje was caught on tape

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When Ja'afarappearedbefore the same committee on October 25, he insisted that the videos are not doctored like Governor Ganduje has claimed.

He said the sting operation was conducted after a contractor friend of his complained that the governor had been receiving bribes, ranging from 15% to 25%, for every project executed in the state from contractors.

He revealed that spy cameras were planted in the contractor's kaftan lapel to catch the governor in the act. Of the 15 clips he said were recorded during the operation, nine fully showed the governor's face, body and hands collecting bundles of dollars.

He said the videos that have been published, two at the time, were certified to be genuine by Daily Nigerian's in-house technical expert, the editor-in-chief and editorial adviser, as well as experts from Amnesty International Nigeria, BBC and Premium Times who have also watched the clips.

Governor Ganduje has maintained his innocence, claiming that the videos have been doctored by his political opponents to tarnish his reputation.

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