Mr. Muhuyi Magaji Rimin Gado is the Executive Chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission, the only state-run anti-corruption agency in Nigeria, which has been tackling financial and economic crimes in the state.Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje
In this interview with Abdulmumin Murtala, Gado speaks on the success and challenges of the agency and concludes that it is possible for states to establish and run anti-corruption agencies to complement the Federal government owned Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“What I am trying to point out here is that it is only when the states follow suit, it is only when the states key in to the fight against corruption that we are going to start seeing the positive impact of the fight against corruption in the country. But when the states play victim in the fight against corruption then certainly we are not making any impact. If you have 36 states fighting a common goal then I believe there will be a significant change in that.”
How far have you coped with Kano State Public Complaints and anti-Corruption Commission?
Aside Kano, I don’t think there is any state-owned anti-corruption body. It is an ombudsman of anti-corruption agencies. If you look at our laws, it is a combination of ICPC and the Federal Public Complaints Commission acts. It is to take care of administrative injustices. We are empowered by section 9 of the law establishing the commission to take appropriate measures to tackle corruption and other financial crimes.
What is the scope of the commission?
Under Section 15 of the law, the scope of the Commission has been widened. By law we can investigate corrupt practices among government workers in the state. We mediate between conflicting parties, between people and government, between companies and people, and between companies and companies. The whole essence of the commission is just to bring peace among the people.
Secondly, we are also empowered by law to investigate corrupt practices and the law establishing the commission also empowers us to initiate prosecution of violators. We have three departments all empowered by law and the law also empowers the creation of additional departments as well. The three established by law are anti-corruption, Public Complaints and Citizens’ rights. The ones that are now in place are mentioned because sub-section 2 empowers us to create more departments. That is why we have Operations Department which is manned mainly by law enforcement agents, they are here to enforce the law.
How does the work of your commission complement that of the EFCC and ICPC?
Nigeria is operating a federal system of government. Regional interest is reconciled with national unity. That is why under it you have state and regional governments of particular interests based on the particular society. For instance, what is obtainable here in Kano may be different from what happens in Enugu and what you get there might not be accepted here.
That is the essence of the Federal system. I think that is the best system that suits Nigeria which is made up of 250 ethnic groups. We have 36 states in Nigeria and each of the states has a state government with a legislature and members of the state assembly. They also have a judiciary headed by the Chief Judge of the state. When you have all these in place you will see that the states are components of their own and are relatively independent of the federal government.
There are certain laws that are passed by the national assembly that are domesticated in the state as well. For instance, if you look at the Public Procurement Act of the federal government, the scope of the act is limited to the federal government agencies. There are also laws that the federal government cannot make that are left to the states to legislate upon. So, we are working in such a way that what we do at the end of the day can complement the work of the federal government being undertaken by the EFCC and the ICPC.
How do you view the issue of corruption?
I think that the federal government is trying its best in tackling corruption in this country. That is why the state governments should take certain measures as Kano State is doing to support the fight.
If state governments are deeply involved in trying murder cases, or legislating on murder cases, what is wrong with their involvement in trying to stamp out corruption? That is where the missing link is. There is a popular belief that the fight against corruption should be left to the federal government alone and that is where we are missing it.
What other roles does the commission play?
We are into enlightenment as well. We have the anti-corruption enlightenment department which is headed by a very senior lawyer. I believe we are making tremendous successes in terms of enlightening the public on the dangers of corruption. I believe we have made a significant impact in the fight against corruption in Kano State in particular and by extension the federal level. I can say authoritatively that there is no agency of government that you come here to complain about or express something fishy that we will not investigate the matter.
How do you run your activities with likely accusations that you are in the pocket of the governor and might be serving his whim just as EFCC is accused?
It is obvious that whatever you are doing, people will tend to say negative things against you for many reasons. But you must move on irrespective of what people are saying. Once you are convinced that what you are doing is for the good of society and not personal aggrandisement, go ahead and do your job. When the results of what you are doing begin to show, even your critics would be silenced.
But one has to be professional. If we have the audacity and the guts to investigate a serving commissioner, prosecute a serving permanent secretary and a serving director, we organized an operation and entered the Government House and got a senior assistant to the governor arrested and brought here (to my office) and prosecuted him accordingly, then you can judge if we are being dictated to or not. This is our modus operandi in the fight against corruption in Kano State and this is how it is supposed to be. Those who claim that one will be in the pocket of the governor; the naked truth is that it was the governor that appointed me to this position.
But every right-thinking person will be fair to governor Ganduje, judging by what the commission is doing. If the commission had been influenced in any way by the governor, then it would have meant that some persons close to the governor would not have been arrested and prosecuted by this office. So, you can see that we are not dictated to by the governor or anyone else in the discharge of our work. You can take that from me.
I will make mention of a single case of Kofar Ruwa Market. Those involved in this are the kitchen cabinet of the state government. In fact, they had to go to the court and ask the court to stop us from investigation and even at that they went to the extent of filing a contempt proceeding against us. As I am talking to you now those involved are still part of the government, they are part of the system.
Secondly there are those who are also very close associates of the governor that are being investigated by this commission; I don’t want to mention names. Some have even lost their jobs because of what we are doing. I will not brag but we are working professionally and excellently and at the same time we have a lot of things because our activities will speak for us. It might interest you to know that the commission is only 10 years old.
The law establishing it was promulgated in 2008 and we are now in 2018. So if a ten-year-old commission is very popular within and outside Nigeria, then you should know what it means to us. I can say it authoritatively that despite what people say against us no one can deny the fact that we have set the pace when it comes to fighting corruption and other crimes in the state. If other states will follow suit and do what we are doing in Kano by establishing anti-corruption agencies like this I think it would be a good omen for the country.
As you can see, we are under-policed in the country so if the state governments will rise to their responsibility Insha Allah, as we have done in Kano, we will record a huge success.
What would you count as your successes so far?
We have a lot of successes. It baffles me the way a lot of people have expressed the successes achieved including a particular writer from far away Kaduna who wrote on anti-corruption fight, how Kano got it right and what he said were all correct to the point. The most important thing is how we have built confidence in the people such that people believe in the commission. They believe that the commission is up and doing. People often come here instead of going to any other place you can think of.
We have so many achievements that I cannot single out one and say this is our achievement. As I have said the people have confidence in us, we have made achievements in terms of prosecutions as well. This is the first time the law of this commission has been tested. We have a saying that “Kowa ya je yaki Sarki ya taya” (Whoever goes to the battle assists the King). I have my team here made up of legal practitioners, police and other law enforcement agencies. Journalists and others have also contributed immensely to the successes achieved.
I can tell you authoritatively that we have shown that yes, states are equal to the task and can establish something that can work side by side with the federal government’s anti-corruption agencies to tackle the monster called corruption headlong.