The Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch (CeFTIW) — has urged the National Assembly to swiftly act and ensure the passing of the whistle blower bill initiated in 2016. Highlighting the rampant corruption — currently plaguing the nation, the Centre emphasizes the pressing need for this law as a secure avenue to expose fraudulent activities. Umar Yakubu, the Executive Director of CeFTIW, mentioned the need for action during the unveiling of Civil Society’s Monitoring Mechanism for the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) — in Nigeria.
He observed that Nigeria has a reputation for impulsive spending money to solve problems instead of thoroughly assessing them to find long-term solutions. He advocated for the establishment of a durable legal structure that utilizes the whistle-blower law to combat corruption in the nation. Despite the federal government’s reassured commitment for the whistle-blower policy, the willingness to expose corruption through whistle-blowing — has diminished due to concerns over potential retaliation and assault. A solid legal structure is imperative to support individuals who desire to courageously expose corruption and voice their dissent against it, he said.
Nigerian Senate reintroduced the bill after failed efforts.
Yakubu emphasized the necessity of secure workstations within MDAs, ensuring the safety and confidentiality of workers when reporting cases of corruption. On the other hand, Tamara Berepubo, a Program Officer at the CeFTIW, introduced a corruption monitoring mechanism developed by a group of civil society organizations (CSOs). This mechanism, he said, serves as a comprehensive guide for evaluating Nigeria’s progress in implementing the global anti-corruption framework. Emphasizing its significance, Berepubo highlighted the template’s ability to pinpoint the obstacles and deficiencies within Nigeria’s anti-corruption endeavors.
Furthermore, it offers practical recommendations that can be implemented swiftly and effectively to overcome these challenges. These monitoring templates will exhibit the best practices and inventive methods employed by conscientious Nigerian government establishments to advance the principles and values of the UNCAC.This measure was carefully crafted with input and approval from a diverse range of experts including government agencies, civil society organizations, scholars, and international collaborators. In the closing months of 2023, the whistleblowers bill was reintroduced by the Nigerian Senate, following a series of unsuccessful efforts.
Whistleblowers will be rewarded with 2.5-5 of recovered funds.
On November 28, 2023, the first reading of the bill sponsored by Opeyemi Bamidele, the Majority Leader of the Senate, was successfully passed. During the leadership of Bukola Saraki, the eighth Senate managed to pass both the whistleblower and witness protection legislations. Nevertheless, the whistleblower bill encountered obstacles during its second reading in the House of Representatives and unfortunately did not progress to a third reading before the conclusion of the ninth assembly. The Whistleblower Protection Act, initiated by the Buhari-led administration in December 2016 and overseen by the Federal Ministry of Finance, serves as a shield for individuals who willingly reveal instances of fraud, bribery, misappropriation of government funds and possessions, financial impropriety, and various other types of corruption.
In return for disclosing details regarding financial mismanagement, corruption or alerting the ministry’s portal about any kind of unlawful misappropriation of public funds, the policy generously compensates whistleblowers with a percentage ranging from 2.5 to 5 of the funds recovered by the government. For whistle-blowers to be eligible for the reward, they are required to offer the Government with exclusive information, not already accessible by any other means, and that the Government would otherwise not be able to obtain.
Immunity from criminal prosecution is not assured for whistleblowers.
Notably, the reward will only be granted if the disclosed information directly contributes to the Government’s successful recovery. It is important to note that this policy does not grant any form of protection against civil or criminal charges. In the event that an investigation uncovers evidence connecting a whistle-blower to involvement in corruption or a related incident, it is crucial to note that their immunity from criminal prosecution would not be guaranteed. Thus, the whistle-blower could potentially face charges for the very crime they bravely exposed.