President Muhammadu Buhari has responded to claims that he is shielding Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, from prosecution.
Ganduje was caught on camera pocketing wads of dollars, which appeared to be kickbacks from a contractor.
Although the Governor has claimed the videos were doctored, Jafar Jafar, publisher of Daily Nigerian, who shared the videos in public domain, insisted the videos were real.
Jafar was invited to face an investigative panel set up by the Kano State House of Assembly, but no major action has been taken against the Governor on the matter.
Similarly, when he appeared on ‘The Candidates’, a presidential town hall programme for politicians broadcast on live television, Buhari expressed doubt about the authenticity of the videos but stated that the law would take its course.
However, on Thursday, the presidential campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) berthed in Kano and Buhari was welcomed to the state by Ganduje, as well as thousands of party faithful. Buhari also endorsed Ganduje for reelection as governor of the state.
Responding to the reports that the corruption allegation levelled against Ganduje had watered down the President’s claim that he is fighting corruption impartially, a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), issued on Thursday, restated Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption.
The statement read: “President Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed claims that his association with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano has diminished his commitment to the war against corruption.
“The Presidency in a statement Thursday said that there is a difference between perception and reality. According to the statement, which followed comments after the proclamation by President Buhari of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, at a rally in Kano, the presidency cited a number of high-profile prosecution of senior government officials that a former Secretary to the Government and a former state governor who is a party member and now serving term in jail as indications of will and determination to wage the anti-corruption war without fear or favour.
“It also added that the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, is currently on administrative leave as part of President Buhari's commitment to transparency and accountability.
“The statement explained that despite some of the suspects being close to the President, he had not shielded them from investigation, administrative suspensions and prosecution.
“The Presidency added that it is sheer mischief to suggest that President Buhari is shielding anybody because of their closeness to him, explaining that no official under this administration would go unpunished once they break the law.”
On the allegations of corruption against the Governor, the statement added: “On the specific issue of Governor Ganduje of Kano State, the statement noted that Dr. Ganduje, as a sitting Governor, enjoys immunity from prosecution in his own right. Furthermore, under Nigerian laws, a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“In the circumstances, the matter is in court and the President has no power to dictate to the court or the Kano State House of Assembly, which is already investigating the matter, about what to do with the allegations against Ganduje.
“The Presidency added that it is unfair to ignore the larger picture of the President's major successes in the war against corruption, including blocking leakages of corruption, which in turn, boosted government revenues.
“The statement challenged President Buhari's critics to prove that those facing corruption allegations are innocent, adding that the President's zero tolerance for corruption has boosted and remarkably improved Nigeria's image in the eyes of world leaders.”