By Yemi Adebowale
The twists and turns in the Abdullahi Ganduje $5 million soap opera are unending. The soap is running daily. The video is also selling like hot cake on the streets of Kano. It’s looking like the biggest selling video in the history of this city. The Ganduje soap opera may end up being one of the longest soaps in Nigeria’s history if this Kano State Governor gets a second term.
The latest turn in this soap opera is the historic suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, over “the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN, and/or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to investigate allegations of bribery against Governor Ganduje of Kano State, as contained in the widely circulated video clips allegedly showing Ganduje receiving bribe.”
SERAP had in November asked the president to direct the investigation of Ganduje, “If there is a relevant and sufficient admissible evidence for him to face prosecution at the expiration of his tenure as governor.” This was never looked into for obvious reasons.
SERAP is now asking a court of law to compel Buhari to do the needful. In the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, the human rights body is 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.”
SERAP said: “The Applicant’s requests are not onerous but simply based on issues of public interest, good governance, transparency and accountability. It is in the interest of justice to grant this application, as the Respondent has nothing to lose if the application is granted.”
This suit by SERAP is inspiring. The arguments put forward to back their demands are also compelling. It is an undisputable fact that investigating allegations of bribery against Ganduje would be entirely consistent with the provisions of section 15; sub-section 5 of the 1999 Constitution, which requires the government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, regardless of the state where such practices are taking place.
It is also a fact that the Attorney-General of the Federation has power conferred on him by section 174(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and that anti-corruption agencies have the powers to act on the allegations of bribery against 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.
SERAP states further: “It is important to reiterate that a sitting governor can be investigated under Nigerian laws. Any criminal allegation against a sitting governor can and should be investigated pending the time the governor leaves office and loses immunity. The Respondent has failed, neglected and refused to instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and/or anti-corruption agencies to investigate 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.”
The EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies have clearly been playing politics with the Ganduje issue. We have seen cases of sitting governors like Ayo Fayose being investigated and arraigned at the end of their tenure, after a strong case was established. Ganduje can’t be an exception. Nigerians genuinely interested in the war against corruption are hoping that SERAP will get the desired reprieves sought from the court.
The earlier curious twist to the Ganduje soap was the injunction granted by a Kano State High Court, stopping the Kano State House of Assembly from continuing with the investigation into the $5 million bribery allegation. These lawmakers have been stopped from performing one of their statutory responsibilities by a court of law. What a country!
I always burst into laughter whenever pro-Buhari activists regale us with how well the President has been fighting corruption. The Ganduja case is a classic example of the so-called total war against corruption. No wonder the Kano governor promised Buhari five million votes in 2019.