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Ganduje’s aide, Alibaba, allegedly pockets N16m meant for COVID-19 prayer warriors

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Alibaba Agama-lafiya, the Special Adviser on Religious Affairs to Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has allegedly diverted millions of naira meant for disbursement to Islamic clerics and imams who participated in the special prayer organized by the state government.

DAILY NIGERIAN reports that Mr Ganduje had on July 30 invited no fewer than 360 Islamic clerics and Imams to the state government house for a prayer session, seeking Allah’s intervention in the fight against COVID-19 and general insecurity in the northern part of the country.

Our correspondent gathered that Mr Ganduje had approved the sum of N50,000 for each of the participating Imams.

The state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Muhammad-Tahar Baba-Impossible, confirmed that the governor had directed that N50,000 be given to each of the 360 Ulama that participated in the prayer session.

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While describing the matter as unfortunate, Mr Baba-Impossible emphasized that the governor warned that nothing should be deducted from the money as it was meant for those invited to perform the prayer at the government house.

This newspaper gathered that Mr Agama-lafiya, who was the coordinator of the prayer session, awarded the sum of N5,000 only to each of the imams, representing 10 percent of the N50,000 approved by the governor.

The ‘pocketed’ balance of N45,000 which amounts to N16,200,000, remains unaccounted for as at the time of filing this report.

One of the participating clerics who spoke with DAILY NIGERIAN on condition of anonymity expressed his displeasure over the development, saying that such sharp practice was least expected of Mr Agama-lafiya’s standing.

“I am very surprised by this. We all know that N50,000 was given to each of us, but to our dismay, only N5,000 was given to us.

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“Alibaba ought to know that most of us are not rich. Many of us have never got N50,000 at a go and this is a reward for the prayer we performed.

“As an aide to the governor on religious affairs, we least expected this kind of sharp practice from him.

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“He assigned his son and two other persons to give us the N5,000 each and when we attempted to protest, they pleaded with us to keep silent as he is a respected personality. So, where is the respect now?,” the imam asked.

All efforts by DAILY NIGERIAN to reach Mr Agama-Lafiya proved abortive as his known phone lines were switched off as at the time of filing this report.

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However, Mr Agama-lafiya had confirmed giving the N5,000 to each of the imams, while fielding questions from a Kano-based Freedom Radio Wednesday night.

“We wanted the money to go round so that more Ulamas can benefit from the kind gesture, even though the governor was not aware of this.

“I did that to attract more beneficiaries because there were uninvited imams who prayed at their homes and mosques who deserve to receive the gesture too,” he told Freedom Radio.

DAILY NIGERIAN also gathered that the Executive Chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Agency, Muhyi Rimin-Gado had confirmed receiving complaints from some individuals, alleging that Mr Agama-lafiya had shortchanged them.

Mr Rimin-Gado was also reported as saying that the agency would investigate the matter, vowing not to spare any person found guilty.

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