Ganduje’s Aide, Alibaba, Under Fire For Allegedly Pocketing N16m Meant For COVID-19 Prayer

Ali Baba Fagge, the Special Adviser on Religious Affairs to Kano State Governor, is under probe by Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Agency for allegedly diverting money meant for Islamic clerics who participated in a special prayer session organised by the government against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fagge has been released on bail by the commission after being interrogated on Friday, a source told HumAngle but his son and others still remain in the custody of the agency over the matter.

The source said Fagge’s son, Huzaifa Ali-Baba, and his colleagues, Nasiru Chuwa, Auwal Okal, Garba Isa and Zulkifilu, were still being held by the anti-craft agency.

”He (Fagge) was released on administrative bail and is expected to make himself available whenever needed,” the source said.

The Executive Chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Agency, Muhyi Rimin-Gado, had confirmed receiving complaints from some individuals, alleging that Fagge shortchanged them.

Rimin-Gado promised that the agency would investigate the matter and that the culprits would be punished.

The Governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, on July 30 invited no fewer than 360 Islamic clerics and imams to Government House, Kano, for a prayer session to seek Allah’s intervention in the fight against COVID-19 as well as general insecurity in Northern Nigeria.

The state Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Muhammad-Tahar Baba-Impossible, confirmed that the governor approved that each participant in the prayer session be paid N50,000 but instead, Fagge, also known as Alibaba Agama-lafiya, gave them N5,000.

One of the participating clerics, who pleaded anonymity, had told newsmen that he was unhappy about the development, saying that such behavior was least expected of the official.

“I am very surprised by this. We all know that N50,000 was given to each of us but to our dismay, only N5,000 was given to us.

“Alibaba ought to know that most of us are not rich. Many of us have never got N50,000 at a go and this is a reward for the prayer we performed.

“As an aide to the governor on Religious Affairs, we least expected this kind of sharp practice from him.

“He assigned his son and two other persons to give us the N5,000 each and when we attempted to protest, they pleaded with us to keep silent as he is a respected personality. So, where is the respect now?,” the imam asked.

The commissioner, Baba-Impossible, described the development as unfortunate and stressed that the governor warned that nothing should be deducted from the money as it was meant for those invited to perform the prayer.

Fagge confirmed giving N5,000 to each imam in an interview with a local radio station, Kano-based Freedom Radio, on Wednesday night.

“We wanted the money to go round so that more ulamas (clerics) can benefit from the kind gesture, even though the governor was not aware of this.

“I did that to attract more beneficiaries because there were uninvited imams who prayed at their homes and mosques who deserve to receive the gesture too,” he told Freedom Radio.

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