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AFRICMIL urges government to protect whistleblowers

THE African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has called on the Federal government to guarantee the protection of whistleblowers in Nigeria and, as a matter of urgency ensure the passage of the whistleblowing policy into law.

The call was made by the coordinator of African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Chido Onumah at a public presentation of the second year report of Corruption Anonymous (CORA) held on October 17 at the Shehu Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja.

The second-year report was themed, “Protecting Whistleblowers in Nigeria”.

Onumah during his presentation said AFRICMIL through CORA, a pro-whistleblowing project, supported by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, has encountered whistle-blowers who are victimised every day.

He said although whistle-blowers are the first line of defence against crime, corruption and cover-ups, they are still afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.

“In the last two years of our engagement with the whistleblowing policy as well as with whistleblowers, the major issue has been the lack of a legal framework to protect whistleblowers who face intimidation or threats.

“In addition to the need for whistleblower law and robust protection for whistleblowers, it is also important for service providers (government ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs) to be at the driving seat of instituting whistleblower policies and infrastructure to ease the process of reporting in the agencies,” he said.

The event which was chaired by Abdullahi Shehu of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) also featured a three-member panel of discussion including Johnson Oludare of PICA, Ezenwa Nwagwu of SAY No Campaign and Andrew Mamedu of Action Aid.

In his remark, Africa Director, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, said exposing corrupt practices in the country is a non-negotiable venture as only the poor pay dearly for the challenges posed by corruption.

He said MacArthur was basically concerned about the standard of living of Nigerians and the need for good governance and accountability.

Speaking on the integrity of the Federal Government in implementing the whistleblowing policy, Abdullahi of NOUN, called on the government to be transparent in the process of recovering stolen funds and assets.

He urged the government to keep to their bargain, by paying whistle-blowers the percentage it promised them when they submit tips.

He said the body language of the federal government would tell if whistleblowers and/or Nigerians will continue to submit tips or support the fight against corruption.

On his part, Nwagwu the convener of Say No Campaign said unless the federal government provides a legal framework with which whistleblowers could function well, Nigerians may not possibly support the policy or the anti-corruption fight with positive actions.

He called on Nigerians to collectively lend their voices to the campaign for the passage of the whistleblower policy into law as it will benefit them more.

Oludare, Assistant Director at the Federal Ministry of Finance and head of the whistleblowing unit at the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), commended AFRICMIL for working hard to promote the whistleblowing policy and for supporting PICA to realise its aim.

Embattled whistleblowers, Murtala Mohammed who was an auditor at the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and Sambo Abdullahi, a former auditor at the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trade PLC (NBET), also called on the federal government to intervene in their ordeal as they have been faced with series of intimidation and harassment, including sack from work and denial of salaries because they exposed fraudulent practices at their places of work.

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