Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says Nigerians have no choice than to always blow the whistle over any act of corruption.
Magu said this on Thursday in Abuja during the launch of Corruption Anonymous (CORA), an anti-corruption initiative of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).
Represented at the event by Osita Nwajah, Director of Public Affairs in the EFCC, Magu expressed delight that Nigerians are taking advantage of the whistle-blower policy of the federal government not just because of the benefits to be enjoyed but because many have seen the need to join forces with government in fighting the menace.
“I am glad to report that Nigerians have so far been very responsive, despite the unholy alliance of the corrupt who are fighting back seriously,” Magu said.
“Nigerians from all walks of live have seen reasons why this war must be fought collectively and why corruption must be brought to its knees and those who feed in its temple are stooped and punished.
“This goodwill and prayers and support of Nigerians continue to give us the strength needed to push this war.
“Through this window, we have seen many Nigerians whose motivation was not just to benefit from the recoveries as promised by the federal government, but the satisfaction of having to see that what was ill-gotten has been recovered for the good of all.”
Magu pointed out that so far, the whistle-blowing policy had led to the recovery of “N527,643,500; $53,222,747; GBP 21,222,890 and Euro 547,730″.
He commended AFRICMIL “for taking interest in this important aspect of the war against corruption”.
Chido Onumah, Executive Director of AFRICMIL, said his organisation took up the CORA project as its own contribution to rid Nigeria of the scourge of corruption.
Onumah however said government must demonstrate its willingness not only to reward whistle-blowers but also to ensure that they are protected from intimidation and persecution as this will encourage more people to volunteer information to appropriate authorities.
“What we really think is key is the protection of whistle-blowers and that’s one particular area that is very close to our hearts as far as this project is concerned,” Onumah said.
“If whistle-blowers feel they won’t be protected, there will be no basis for them to blow the whistle.”
Onumah narrated the story of Ntia Thompson, a staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was removed from office for exposing acts of corruption.
According to Onumah, Thompson was later recalled after series of intervention by AFRICMIL, but he was posted out of his original department to the Library section “until eventually he was frustrated out of the ministry.”
He also mentioned the case of Murtala Ibrahim, who was sacked from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria for blowing the whistle and is yet to be recalled despite all efforts by AFRICMIL.
“He (Ibrahim) hasn’t been recalled but we are hoping, we’ve written to the Minister, we’ve done a number of other things and we’ll keep following up,” Onumah said.
“The media also should help in this regard by bringing their issues to public attention. This can be the basis for further investigative reporting.
“The more the public understands what’s going on, the more the agencies and institutions of government that are responsible know that the public is aware of what is going on and as such we will be able to put pressure on them to act.”
The event was also attended by Bolaji Owasonoye, Acting Chairman of the ICPC, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Nigerians can follow the initiative on tweeter @CORANigeria using the hashtag #blowthewhistlenaija.