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Media coalition asks federal civil service to protect whistleblower

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THE Coalition for Whistleblower Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has called on the Federal Civil Service to protect a whistleblower, Richard Oghenerhoro.

The coalition made the call in a statement released on Thursday while reacting to the disciplinary action taken against Oghenerhoro for uncovering fake employment in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Abuja and making his finding public.

He was found guilty of misconduct, breach of oath of secrecy, unauthorised disclosure of official information and copying of official documents, contrary to the provisions of the Public Service Rules.

The whistleblower is facing termination of appointment or forced retirement.

CWPPF described the disciplinary action as “a risible attempt to stifle freedom of expression and a total disregard for the 2016 Whistleblowers Policy”.

The coalition stated that since the Federal Government introduced the policy as a strategy to curb corruption in Nigeria, there have been several cases of stigmatisation of whistleblowers.

The group insisted on protection for Oghenerhoro.

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Parts of the statement read, “Whistleblowing is an important tool for fighting corruption. Mr Oghenehoro’s disclosure is timely and important considering the recent report about delisting 70,000 ghost workers in the Federal Civil Service.

“You would think that a government that lays so much emphasis on fighting corruption would be appreciative of citizens who are willing to expose irregularities and corruption in the public interest.

“CWPPF has taken up cases of victimisation of whistleblowers over the years and we certainly demand that Mr Oghenehoro be protected, reinstated, and appreciated for exposing irregularities and weak employment data systems in the Federal Civil Service rather than focus on the petition.”

Calling for the immediate withdrawal of punitive sanctions against the whistleblower, the group said it would strengthen the confidence of citizens in exposing irregularities that may put the country in danger.

“We shall continue to oppose all forms of attacks on human rights and press freedom in Nigeria and across the world and hold the government, individuals, and organizations accountable.

“We shall continue to take the necessary measures to prevent violence against journalists and media workers and we will also fiercely demand accountability and bring perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers to justice,” the statement added.

Members of the coalition include International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Premium Times, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, The Cable, Daily Trust Newspaper, International Press Institute, Nigeria, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) and Civic Media Lab.

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Others are Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), International Press Centre (IPC), International Press Institute, Nigeria, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Paradigm Initiative, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), and HEDA Resources Centre.

Author profile

Raji Olatunji is a Journalist at The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). You can send him an email at rolatunji@icirnigeria.org. He tweets @olazrajj

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