The publisher told the lawmakers that the video clips, obtained from a whistleblower, were authenticated by the BBC and Amnesty International before he went public with them.
Desmond Mgboh, Kano
Publisher of Daily Nigerian, Mr. Jafar Jafar, in Kano, yesterday, insisted the story and video clips, which showed Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, receiving United States of America dollars, from alleged contractors, are real.
Jafar, who arrived the state capital from Abuja, amid tight security, told a public hearing set up by the House of Assembly that the video clips he published were true, certified and an authentic representation of the alleged incidents and not cloned copies as claimed.
The publisher told the lawmakers that the video clips, obtained from a whistleblower, were authenticated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Amnesty International before he went public with them.
Addressing the seven- man committee set up to investigate the bribery allegation against the governor, Jafar disclosed how he got the story, from a whistleblower, who had complained to him about the governor.
Led in questions by the chairman of the committee, Baffa Baba Dan Agundi, Jafar explained that, after receiving the complaint, he demanded for proof and reminded the whistleblower that it was unethical and unprofessional to publish a material against the governor; based on hearsay.
Following his demand, Jafar said “he (whistleblower) agreed to fix a spy camera on his kaftan lapel, to get multiple shots of the governor while in the act.
“Out of 15 of them, nine of them showed the governor’s face. About six of them did not show the governor’s face and, in view of that, I told him that the rest that did not show the governor’s face we cannot publish them, despite the fact that the conversation was identifiable.
“We went ahead and published two of the clips. We initially released one.
“When the people doubted the credibility of the clip, due to the absence of conversation in the clip, in the subsequent one, we allowed the voice to run through” said Jafar.
He also explained that apart from his judgement about the video, he invited officials of Amnesty International to look at the clips, and that they certified them to be genuine. He added that his in-house graphic experts also subjected the video to some back-end checks, and, also, confirmed their authenticity.
“In addition to this, before BBC agreed to air the story about the clips, we invited them to look at them, and check whether these were doctored or, in their words, ‘cloned or tampered with.’ They said ‘no…these were original clips.’ And then, we went ahead and published them on October 14, 2018,” he added.
Jafar, however, declined to disclose the identity of the whistleblower.
“In the spirit of universal principle of confidentiality, we cannot do that because we are in reference to that principle. We cannot disclose our source” but agreed to consult with his solicitors following a request from the chairman of the committee for the whistleblower to be invited to testify in a small committee and, on the condition that his identity would not be made public.
Jafar later tendered a written statement, including four compact discs, where he downloaded the published video clips as well as those he did not suppress the conversation.
Kano State Attorney General, Barrister Ibrahim Mukhtar, who said he stood for everybody living in Kano, with a view to ensuring that justice is done to all, raised the issue of fair hearing in the process of the reportage, and asked Jafar if he consulted the governor, or officials of the state government, for their response to the allegations in the video.
Jafar admitted that although he did not directly get the side of the governor or any of his aides, he captured the side of the government in all his publications.
He maintained that “balancing of a story implies ensuring that the perspective of the other side is accommodated in your story.”
Chairman of the committee, who promised to fix a date for the certification of the video clips, explained that all sides would be given a chance to defend their positions.
He said the House would, again, invite Jafar, together with his graphic expert, when the video clips would played and would give the governor’s side a chance to provide their own, just as he added that the Assembly would provide an independent expert to certify or reject the video clips.
The public hearing was adjourned to a future date.
It was also a day thousands of placard-carrying citizens besieged the venue, in solidarity with the administration. They described Jafar as a serial lair and mischief maker and also, claimed that the allegation contained in the video clips was nothing but political witch-hunt by some political interests within the state.