From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has shut down insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari’s association with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano has diminished his commitment to the war against corruption.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said there is a difference between perception and reality.
President Buhari had, while responding to a question on Ganduje’s bribery scandal, at a town hall event, tagged ‘The Candidates’, a presidential town hall co-production between Daria Media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), supported by the MacArthur Foundation, expressed doubts about the videos portraying Ganduje, as receiving what appeared to be kickbacks from a contractor.
Shehu said Buhari has dismissed claims that his association with the Kano governor, Abdullahi, has diminished his commitment to the war against corruption.
According to the statement, which comes on the heels of comments that trailed the proclamation by president Buhari that Ganduje is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at a rally in Kano, the presidency cited a number of high profile prosecution of senior government officials, including a former Secretary to the Government and a former state governor, who is a party member and, now, serving jail term, as indications of will and determination by Buhari to wage the anti-corruption war without fear or favour.
It also added that the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, is currently on administrative leave as part of Buhari’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
Shehu further explained that despite some of the suspects being close to the president, he has not shielded them from investigation, administrative suspensions and prosecution.
The presidency added that “it is sheer mischief to suggest that president Buhari is shielding some people because of their closeness to him,” explaining that no official, under this administration, would go unpunished once they break the law.
The statement noted that Ganduje, as a sitting governor, enjoys immunity from prosecution in his own right, adding that under Nigerian laws, a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“In the circumstances, the matter is in court and the president has no power to dictate to the court or the Kano State House of Assembly, which is already investigating the matter, about what to do with the allegations against Ganduje.
The presidency added that it is unfair to ignore the larger picture of the president’s major successes in the war against corruption, including blocking leakages of corruption, which, in turn, boosted government revenues.
The statement challenged president Buhari’s critics to prove that those facing corruption allegations are innocent, adding that the president’s zero tolerance for corruption has boosted and remarkably improved Nigeria’s image in the eyes of world leaders.