[LIVE UPDATE] GandujeGate: DAILY NIGERIAN publisher, Jaafar Jaafar, appears before Kano Assembly investigative panel

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FILE: Kano State House of Assembly in session
FILE: Kano State House of Assembly in session

The Kano State House of Assembly has commenced a hearing on video clips published by the Daily Nigerian newspaper showing Governor Abdullahi Ganduje receiving bribe, amounting to about $5million from contractors in the state.

Daily Nigerian Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Jaafar Jaafar, will brief the lawmakers during the hearing, which is billed to commence around 12:00noon today (Thursday).

Recall that on Monday, October 15, a member representing Warawa Constituency, Labaran Madari, while raising a matter of urgent public importance, moved that the assembly should investigate the authenticity of the video and take measures.

Mr Madari said the videos had brought the institution of governance in the state to disrepute, and therefore the need for the legislators to take urgent action.

The matter was seconded by Rabiu Panisau, a member representing Kumbotso constituency.

Responding, the speaker, Alhassan Rurum, constituted a seven-man committee to investigate the matter and report back to the assembly.

Members of the committee include Baffa Dan’Agundi (Kano Municipal) as chairman; Labaran Madari (Warawa) member; Garba Gafasa (Ajingi), member; and Zubairu Masu, (Sumaila) member.

Others are Ayuba Labaran (Kabo) member; Abubakar Galadima (Bebeji), member; Garba Yau Gwarmai (Kunchi/Tsanyawa), member and; Mujtafa Amin, secretary.

Inside sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that the assembly is planning to serve the governor impeachment notice as soon as the committee submits its report.

“This is a serious matter that should not be swept under the carpet. We did a preliminary investigation and found out the videos are genuine. The committee is a mere formality,” said a member who preferred anonymity.

“The governor confessed to some of us that it was real but he is now trying to stop us from exercising our constitutional duty.”

Multiple contractors who spoke with DAILY NIGERIAN on the condition of anonymity said the governor personally receives from 15 to 25 percent kickbacks for every project executed in the state.

The sting operation to capture the governor on camera began two years ago when one of the contractors agreed with DAILY NIGERIAN request to plant spy camera on his kaftan lapel while offering the bribe.

During about 10 months efforts to capture the bribe giving/taking scenes, the governor’s face and body were clearly captured in nine clips, while six others did not clearly reveal the governor’s face. About $5m dollars were delivered to the governor during the sting operation.

One of the contractors who preferred not to be named said the reason he collaborated with DAILY NIGERIAN was to expose corruption and bring sanity to the country.

12:15 pm: Mr Jaafar arrived at the floor of the chamber.

The session begins at 12:20 pm with the Chairman of the probe committee, Baffa Babba Dan’agundi, a member representing Kano Municipal, announcing the replacement of Barr.  Nasir Aliyu as Daily Nigerian and Jaafar Jaafar’s lawyer.

He disclosed that Barrs. Isaac Ambule and Adam Bashir are now Daily Nigerian and Jaafar Jaafar’s lawyers.

In his opening remark, the chairman assured Mr Jaafar of adequate security.

He, therefore, asked Mr Jaafar to introduce himself before the members of the legislature.

12:28 pm: Mr Jaafar began with his brief bio and went straight to his presentations.

Speaking on the authenticity of the videos, the publisher said his editorial advisors had to seek professional hands to verify the authenticity of the videos before getting them published.

“We invited amnesty international officials to verify the videos.

“We also asked our editorial adviser to ascertain the genuineness of the video,” he asserted.

In his reaction, the chairman asked Mr Jaafar to name the contractors that gave him the clips.

“Can you tell us the name of the contractor that gave you the videos?,” he queried.

Responding, Mr Jaafar said: “Constitutionally and ethically, we can’t disclose the identity of the person.”

Apparently not satisfied by Mr Jaafar’s stance, the chairman said: “We are going to invite you again with your graphics specialist.

“We received the videos and we are going to play them at your presence and your lawyers.

“We will also give the governor’s side a chance to study the authenticity of the video.

“This is going to be as soon as possible, within the time frame we are given to finish this investigation.”

12:37 pm: However, Mr Jaafar’s lawyer noted that it won’t be fair to make presentations and leave without any conclusion arrived at, saying: “We do not object the rules you have set. However, we will want to be here before the committee again,” he prayed.

12: 44 pm: Responding, the chairman assured the publisher and his lawyers of impartiality in the whole process, adding: “We are going to produce independent person to probe the clips. All of you must be there. The video clips have been presented to the committee already.

“We don’t want people to think we go undercover. We want people to see that we are doing this thing objectively. But we will provide more security.

“We will play these videos in the presence of Jaafar and Ganduje’s lawyers, and the office of the attorney general and video experts in the next sitting. We will provide our own video experts to verify the video. ”

12: 46 pm: Subsequently, Mr Jaafar reaffirmed his stance on the published video, saying: “We can only restate, reaffirm and confirm that what we have published is genuine, accurate, not tampered with and not doctored.”

12: 52 pm: Also speaking, the state Attorney General, Ibrahim Mukhtar, pledged to handle the matter with all sense of impartiality, saying: “The office of the AG is for the public not for anybody. Not for the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. ”

“The officer is to ensure that justice is done to the public, Jaafar Jaafar, and the governor himself.”

“I’m here to ensure justice is done to everybody,” Mr Mukhtar stated.

Similarly, the attorney general asked the publisher the date and month in which he received the controversial videos.

12: 55 pm: Mr Jaafar, while responding, said: “I received the videos in September 2017, but watched them for over a year.”

1:00 pm: In his concluding remark, the chairman commended the efforts of the security agencies for making the hearing hitch-free, calling the journalists to be fair in their reportage.

“We appreciate the effort of security agents and urge journalists to report fairly.

“We will announce the next sitting in due course. We will communicate with Jaafar and daily Nigerian in due course.”

DAILY NIGERIAN reports that Mr Jaafar has submitted the video clips to the committee for further scrutiny.

The session has come to an end.