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Politics

Ganduje Was Warned Not To Appoint Me Kano Anti-Corruption Boss, Says Lawyer Who Wants To Send APC Nat’l Chairman To Jail

Muhyi Magaji Rimingado 1

Muhyi Magaji Rimingado had long established his reputation as fearless and incorruptible before he was appointed chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission (PCACC) in 2015.

The poor living conditions of the people of his town, Rimingado, drove him to become critical of government and elected public officials, and eventually turned him into an anti-corruption crusader.

“I’m passionate about fighting corruption because I come from a place whereby we are disadvantage,’ he told THE WHISTLER in an interview in Abuja.

“When I was growing up, Rimingado lacked basic facilities of modern societies and i saw chairmen and councillors living lavish lifestyles. So, I felt something had to change. “

After graduating as a lawyer, he began his activism and soon won the admiration and respect of his people, especially the youths who saw him as a trustworthy leader.

Thus, either as reward for his activism or plot to compromise him, he was appointed Vice Chairman of Rmingado Local Government in 2006 by the former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau administration. But barely six months into office, he displayed his uncompromising side when he clashed with the local government chairman and other personnel over the dilapidated condition of the only hospital in Rimingado, which was serving over 100,000 residents at the time, according to the 2006 census.

The hospital had no functional toilets, among other basic facilities that were lacking, and patients were walking into the surrounding bushes to relieve themselves. He insisted money must be appropriated for the hospital from whatever came into the council as revenue.

Among his colleagues, he was not seen as the regular politician, and seen more as a radical activist who is more likely than not to expose any plot to defraud the people. If he entered any office in the LG, they would hush discussions so he doesn’t hear it! They didn’t trust him to keep his mouth shut over the slightest appearance of government malfeasance.

While serving as vice chairman, he established the Grassroot Anticorruption Awareness Initiative which helped him to promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels of government in the state.

“When I became the vice chairman of my local government, that was when I realised the level of corruption in government was too high, and if something was not done, it would a disaster,” he said while explaining what motivated him to join the anti-corruption fight.

As expected, his activism brought him into collision with top politicians and public officials in the state, including then Gov Shekarau when he sued his administration over local government policy.

Thus, in 2015 when then Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje wanted to appoint him as the chairman of the PCACC, there were opposition from the governor’s associates and supporters who knew his uncompromising attitude and his campaign against corruption in government.

“A lot of people warned him not to appoint me, and I was aware of it,” said the fearless lawyer when he spoke to THE WHISTLER in Abuja.

“They sent 15 petitions against me to the governor that he should be very careful and should not give me the appointment. But he didn’t heed the advice and he appointed me.”

The governor’s refusal to succumb to the warning against appointing him impressed him, and he thought it was strong evidence of Ganduje’s incorruptibility. But he was shocked to find out that he had a totally wrong impression of the ex-governor.

His first real encounter with the sleaze in ex-governor Ganduje’s government was during the Coronavirus pandemic when his commission found that some local government chairmen were diverting government’s palliatives for the people.

So, immediately after the pandemic, the commission, as part of its mandate, initiated a probe of non-performing contracts across the 44 LGAs of the state. What they found was shocking.

“I can swear to Allah that I never knew the magnitude of corruption in the government was up to the level we found.

“We found that many of the contracts were linked to the former governor. Some of it were for the disposal of government properties which did not go down well with the commission. There was secrecy surrounding the exercise.

“We were writing letters to the companies involved. But the former governor was not pleased with it. He called me when i was in Abuja in 2021 and complained about the investigation we were conducting in the area of revenue, contracts and disposal of assets.

I never knew those companies belonged to his family; I was just doing my job. But he was not happy and directed me to stop the investigation, which I did,” Rimingado revealed.

But since then, the anti-corruption momentum slowed down, and Rimingado found himself fighting for survival. The ex-governor and his loyalists came after him, leading to his suspension from office to allow investigation of the commission.

But after Ganduje’s exit from the Kano Government House in May last year, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) administration of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf reinstated him to his position. Gov Yusuf was said to have investigated the allegations against and found they were ill-motivated.

He has become an asset to the administration, and the patriarch of the party in Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso, against Ganduje and his associates who they consider as political foes.

Asked if he was doing a hatchet job for Kwankwaso and the NNPP in the state, he said no one could use him against another person.

“If Governor Yusuf has the mind to steal public funds he would not have reinstated me; I don’t want to live a pretentious life, when we say this and do that!

“I run the commission like an NGO because I go after those that are found wanting. I receive complaints, and even if its against government I do my best to make sure that people get remedies and redress. So, how would Kwankwaso use me against Ganduje? Did Ganduje use me against Emir Sanusi, Ado Bayero?”

Rimingado has created a high level of anti-corruption awareness in the state since his first appointment in 2015, and turned the PCACC into a household name in Kano. He has been involved in several high profile corruption cases, including against former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, when he was on the throne.

Sanusi was investigated over alleged illegal sales of landed property and mismanagement of N3.4bn by the Emirate Council in 2020.

Rimingado later submitted a report to the Kano State Government recommending the suspension of Sanusi as emir.

He also probed a former Accountant General of Kano State, Aisha Mohammed Bello, for allegedly diverting the sum of N100 million. Rimingado publicly called out a judge he accused of trying to impede investigation and prosecution of the case.

He is now in court against ex-governor Ganduje who is facing criminal charges over alleged $413,000 and N1.38bn bribery. The former governor, now the All Progressive Congress National Chairman, his wife Hafsat Umar, and son Umar Abdullahi Umar, are expected to be arraign soon.

Rimingado has lined up 15 witnesses including a Department of State Services officer and some personal aides of the ex-governor to prove his case.

He said he was not afraid to investigate and prosecute anyone that runs foul of the law, stressing that he got his inspiration from the legacy of Nuhu Ribadu, the first chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“When you go to the anti-corruption institute I established for the commission, you will see Nuhu Ribadu Auditorium. Whether we like it or not, the current anti-corruption momentum was instigated and initiated by Nuhu Ribadu. He stuck out his neck and did his best for the country.

He is the one that motivated people like me. Because without Nuhu Ribadu, I will not appreciate the fact that some people are not as powerful and above the law as we think. I am motivated and inspired by what he did as EFCC chairman. He did great to this nation,” he said.

Rimingado has a Bachelor of Common and Islamic laws (LLB) and obtained a master’s degree in Anticorruption. He has attended various courses at different institutions locally and outside the country.

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