Daily Nigerian has today released a video which allegedly shows Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State receiving 15 – 25 percent bribe as “kickback” from contractors. The paper also punished its interview with the whistleblower who shot the video which it says is one of many. If found guilty, Ganduje risks up to 10 years in imprison under the ICPC Act. He could also be prosecuted under the EFCC Act and the Penal Code Laws of Kano State.
However, Ganduje has not been convicted by any court. Thus, all these remain allegations. But they are very serious allegations backed with what appears to be watertight evidence. These videos are admissible in Nigerian courts. They qualify as computer-generated evidence under 258 of the Evidence Act, 2011. Section 84(1) of the Act provides that in any proceedings, a statement contained in a document produced by a computer is admissible as evidence of any fact stated in it of which direct oral evidence would be admissible if certain conditions are fulfilled.
But Ganduje cannot be prosecuted until and unless he ceases to be governor. This is because Section 308 of the Constitution confers immunity on him. However, on the strength of the decision of the Supreme Court in Fawehenmi v. IGP (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 767) p. 606, he may be investigated by the Police, ICPC or EFCC while he is still a governor. However, if he is allowed to continue to hold his position, he may be able interfere with his investigation. Thus, the only option is for Ganduje to be pressured by Abuja to resign or be impeached by the State Assembly.
It is clear that Ganduje wouldn’t resign on his own. Thus, the best way forward is for the State Assembly to impeach him. Under section 188 of the constitution, Ganduje could be removed from office for “gross misconduct” and demanding and receiving bribe in the way Ganduje allegedly did certainly qualifies as “ gross misconduct” as defined by the Constitution. If the State Assembly refuse, fail or neglect to initiate this process, they have no business being there and should all be voted out come 2019.
Finally, it is safer for APC to suspend forwarding Ganduje’s name to the INEC. Section 33 of the Electoral Act provides that once his name is submitted to INEC in accordance with Section 32, he cannot be swapped unless he dies or withdraws by himself. Thus, APC should know that if they make the mistake of submitting Ganduje’s name, they risk going to the polls with a candidate over whose head a heavy cloud is handing. This will not only affect the candidate concerned, but other candidates of the party in the state as well. What is more, the APC cannot continue to claim to be fighting corruption if they go to the polls with Ganduje as their candidate. And this will be a gift to the opposition party.
If Ganduje’s name has already been submitted to the INEC, like I said above, he cannot be changed unless he dies or withdraws. Thus, it behooves PMB and APC to get him to withdraw so that they may replace him at the appropriate time. If he refuses, APC may adopt a candidate from a smaller party. They may enter into an agreement with that candidate that he would cross-carpet to the APC if and after he wins election. This will mean that the party may tactically retained Kano and there is no law outlawing this arrangement. Otherwise PDP will snatch Kano and this would be a disastrous mistake for the ruling party.
Audu Bulama Bukarti