THE Whistleblowing Advocacy Coalition (WAC) has said whistleblowers who report acts of corruption in Nigeria’s public sector are being harassed and victimized at their places of work.
The Coalition disclosed this on Thursday, December 8, during a press briefing on ‘Whistleblowing Legislation and Whistleblower Protection in Nigeria’ in commemoration of the ‘International Anti-Corruption Day 2022’ in Abuja.
According to the Coalition, some of the whistleblowers are denied salary for refusing to participate in corrupt acts.
“We note that unlike in the early stages of the whistleblowing policy when people showed tremendous enthusiasm about submitting reports which resulted in frequent recovery of looted public funds, there has been a noticeable severe reduction in people’s interest in passing on information to the anti-corruption agencies.
“The major reason is that the whistleblowing policy which this administration introduced six years ago has remained a policy, with no framework for protecting whistleblowers who are continually subjected to all kinds of punishment for reporting fraud and corrupt practices in their offices.
“Many whistleblowers in the public sector have been visited with adverse actions ranging from dismissal, suspension without pay, denial of salary and promotion, intimidation, harassment, etc. Even to exercise the right to refuse participation in corrupt acts attracts punishment from the management of public institutions.
“Thus, because workers see that their colleagues who report crime or refuse to be part of a crime are being victimized without any form of protection, many of them are discouraged from making disclosures of wrongdoing even when they see one,” a statement released by the Coalition said.
The whistleblowers’ organisation said it has taken significant steps to resolve the issue with civil society and media partners who have a passion to curb corruption in the country.
The Coalition, at the event, disclosed that it came up with what is known as ‘The Abuja Declaration of Action on Whistleblowing Legislation and Whistleblower Protection in Nigeria’.
According to WAC, the Abuja Declaration features two major highlights which include “the recognition of whistleblowing as not just a mechanism for addressing fraud and illegalities, but also as a right of freedom of expression which is a fundamental human right that needs to be fully protected”.
It noted that people have a right to both speaking up and speaking out without any hindrance.
“The second feature is the unanimous endorsement of a strong Coalition of duty bearers to intensify the campaign for an urgent realization of protection legislation.”
The Coalition expressed hopes that the Whistleblowing Bill would be considered at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and sent to the National Assembly for passage before the 2023 General Elections.
“However, this Coalition will not wait for them. Our resolve is to, as quickly as possible, use the Abuja Declaration as a tool of engagement with all tiers of government, but especially the National Assembly towards having this bill passed and having a law before the tenure of this administration ends in 2023,” the group added.