A scandalous video has been published appearing to show Governor Umar Ganduje pocketing vast bundles of American dollars in what was said to be bribe payments from public works contractors.
The Kano State governor could be seen collecting the dollars before rolling them into his white dress, “babanriga,” in one of a series of questionable deals allegeldly struck over a span of several months.
The first set of at least 15 clips in possession of online-based Daily Nigerian was published on Sunday afternoon by the platform. The two minutes video was recorded in 2017 in what Daily Nigerian described as a sting operation aimed at beaming a spotlight on the governor’s alleged penchant for contract racketeering.
The governor has debunked the video as “cloned” and threatened a sweeping lawsuit against its publisher. In the only video published so far, the governor appeared to have received $230,000. All the cash was hastily stashed in his “babanriga”.
Daily Nigerian said the $230,000 was part of a series of cash advancement to the governor in a total bribery deal of $5 million.
Ganduje has denied any wrongdoing. He strongly denied being the one in the video, calling the publisher a blackmailer and ordering the state attorney-general to commence criminal investigation and possible prosecution.
Jafaar Jafaar, an Abuja-based journalist and publisher of Daily Nigerian, said he has decided to take cover with his family following relentless threats to their safety.
Foremost rights group, Amnesty International, and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have both expressed grim worries about Jafaar’s safety, calling on both the Kano State governor and the Nigerian government to ensure neither the journalist nor his family faced any debilitating backlash as a result of his journalism.
The presidency is yet to make an official statement on the video. However, even if found culpable after investigation by anti-corruption agencies, Ganduje, as governor, enjoys constitutional immunity from prosecution.