The Mother of All Scandals #EventsoftheYear2018

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Of all cases of corruption scandals in 2018, the video footage of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje collecting and stuffing bribe money into his pocket stood out 

By Emeka Ejere

Like in the previous years, Nigeria and, indeed, the world witnessed a number of shocking bribery and certificate forgery scandals in 2018. But the $5 million bribery involving Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano State, appears to be the mother of it all.

A video of Ganduje allegedly receiving kickback from contractors had trended on social media and generated a lot of controversy which has dragged on for months.

The video published by the Daily Nigerian, an online newspaper in October, showed the governor receiving bundles of dollars and putting them into his white dress known as ‘babanriga’ in the northern part of Nigeria.

According to the newspaper, the governor had requested for $5 million from the contractors who recorded the video while handing part of the payment to him.

Since the video surfaced online, it has generated a lot of reactions from Nigerians, with some saying it is a dent on President Muhammadu Buhari’s corruption agenda since the governor is a member of All Progressives Congress, the ruling party.

The latest twist in the episode 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 Ganduje.

SERAP had in November asked the president to order 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.”

Worried by Buhari’s nonchalant attitude to the issue, SERAP is now asking a court of law to compel the president 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.”

Apart from the Ganduje’s bribery saga, the nation was jolted on Tuesday, December 4, when Paul Usoro, SAN, president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, was arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over multiple corruption allegations and money laundering.

Usoro’s arrest came two days before his first National Executive Council, NEC, meeting as the NBA president billed to hold on December 6.

The alleged laundering was carried out in partnership with some government officials of the Akwa Ibom State government including Udom Emmanuel, the state governor.

Others are: Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, accountant general of the state, Nsikan Linus Nkan, commissioner for Finance, one Margeret Thompson Ukpe and Paul Usoro with his law firm.

According to EFCC, Usoro connived with some government officials and stole the sum of N1.7 billion belonging to the Akwa Ibom State government. He was, however, released on bail and has been charged to court.

Besides the corruption allegations, Usoro is also accused of rigging the NBA election that brought him to power. His opponents alleged that the election was characterized by massive vote buying, vote capture, rigging, hacking of electorates’ emails, and a skewed process”.

Usoro was also alleged to have bribed two judges, Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court and James Agbadu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria. The National Judicial Council, NJC, had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss the two judges after they were investigated and found guilty.

The year also saw a number of certificate saga. It started with the president himself, whose school certificate qualification became an issue of much speculation and histrionics. The constitution requires any office-seeker in Nigeria to have the minimum of a secondary education, which is extremely low education but good enough to enable the fellow read and write, and be able to sign documents.

The focus on the president’s educational qualification, and the opaqueness that grew around the matter ended up prompting search for certificates in the corridors of power, including certificates of participation in the National Youth Service Corps. Casualties were recorded.

Kemi Adeosun, was accused of dodging the compulsory one-year national service for higher institution graduates. She was pushed to resign her exalted office as minister of finance on September 14, after her claim of receiving exemption letter was invalidated.

There was also Adebayo Shittu, minister for communication, who also did not participate in the National Youth Service Corps.

Shittu had the effrontery to say that he did not enroll for the NYSC because he thought his membership of the Oyo State House of Assembly was the equivalent of a national service.

This cost him his governorship ambition as the All Progressives Congress, APC, disqualified him from participating in the party’s governorship primaries in Oyo State. He has, however, been quoted as saying he is now ready to enroll for the NYSC.

There is still the unresolved matter of Okoi Obono-Obla, the president’s special adviser on corruption. He has been accused by a committee of the House of Representatives of parading a doctored school certificate result.

They argue that the school certificate result that he holds does not belong to him but to his dead cousin. And that he used the certificate to gain admission to the University of Jos where he studied law.

The West African Examinations Council, WAEC, the examining authority that should know the truth, has also allegedly said that there is something fishy about the certificate in question.

There is also the case of Jibrilla Bindo, governor of Adamawa state, who has been accused of forging his school certificate qualification. Bindow is seeking a second term as governor. His opponents, under the auspicious of Global Integrity and Crusade Network, GICN, are saying that the governor did not even complete secondary school.

They have given WAEC an ultimatum to tell Nigerians whether or not Bindow, who had served previously as senator of the Federal Republic, has a secondary school certificate in accordance with the laws of the land. They claim he has not been able to make any difference as governor because he is a secondary school drop-out.

Similarly, Ademola Adeleke, PDP governorship candidate in the recent Osun State governorship election, also had issues with his academic qualifications. It was alleged that Adeleke did not have a school certificate. WAEC confirmed he had one. Then the Police accused him of having sat for the 2017 National Examination Council Examination, NECO, by proxy.

On the international scene, Malusi Gigaba, South African home affairs minister, resigned on Tuesday, November 13, two weeks after a public standards watchdog said he had violated the constitution by lying under oath in court.

Gigaba, a close ally of ousted former president Jacob Zuma, had earlier vowed not to step down after also being caught in a leaked sex tape scandal.

A statement from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office announced that Gigaba said he had resigned “to relieve the president from undue pressure” and to allow Ramaphosa to focus on saving the country from “economic meltdown.”

Earlier, on October 9, Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa’s finance minister, quit after admitting meeting members of the Gupta family, who have been accused of corruption.

President Ramaphosa, who replaced Nene Tito Mboweni, former central bank chief,  said he accepted the resignation “in the interest of good governance”.

The Guptas were accused of working with former President Jacob Zuma to secure government contracts and determine cabinet appointments.

Both the Guptas and Zuma denied the allegations.

– Jan. 1, 2019 @ 00:15 GMT |

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