Ensure Speedy Passage of Whistleblower Protection Bill, Anti-corruption Experts Urge NASS

) Some anti-corruption experts have called on the National Assembly to pass the Whistle Blower Protection Bill to make the whistleblowing policy of the Federal Government effective and encouraging.

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They made the call on Thursday in Ibadan at a workshop organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), in partnership with the One Life Initiative for Human Development.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop organised for the Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) on Whistleblowing and Fight Against Corruption in Nigeria was sponsored by MacAthur Foundation.

The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, any further delay in passing the bill posits danger as it may expose the whistleblower to risk and discourage more people from coming up with information to the anti-graft agencies

Magu said Nigerian did not have a comprehensive whistleblowing legislation in spite of the bills before the National Assembly.

Represented by Dr Ben Ubi, he said that introduction of the Whistleblower Policy had enhanced the fight against corruption in the country, leading to several recoveries of stolen public funds.

“The National Assembly has yet to pass the Whistle Blower Protection Bill.

“Any further delay in passing the bill posits danger, as it may expose the whistleblowers to risk and discourage more people from coming up with information to the anti-graft agencies.

“Many recoveries have been made since the introduction of Whistleblowing Policy, but as of today, it is just a policy and will remain so without legal backing.

“We are hoping that the National Assembly pass the bill and thereby make it more effective,” he said.

The EFCC chairman also called for the establishment of special courts for corruption cases for speedy adjudication of such cases.

According to him, lack of special courts for trial of corruption cases impedes the effectiveness of the Whistleblowing Policy.

“The delays in the dispensation of justice in corruption cases is one major challenge to the implementation of this policy.

“It predisposes the whistle blower to the danger of being attacked by the accused who is yet to put behind bars.

“Corruption cases should be to given special courts so that they can easily be dispensed with, and it will help to push the Whistle Blowing Policy farther than it is today,” he said.

Also, Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Dr Chido Onumah, said that the biggest challenge to whistleblowing in the country was the protection of identity of the whistleblower.

“If whistleblowers feel that their identity is not protected, there will be no need for them to want to blow the whistle.

“Once you blow the whistle, there is retaliation and victimisation of whistle blowers by authorities.

“So, one of the things we have been pushing for is the passage of Whistleblower Protection Bill.

“With that law, citizens are assured that they are covered if they blow the whistle,” he said.

Onumah said that even, if a whistleblower suffers retaliation or victimisation, the existence of a legislation would ensure that the government provides some kind of financial support and reparation like in the loss of employment.

Onumah said that the workshop, which had been held in Calabar and Lagos, hoped to train CBOs and CSOs across the country on using whistleblowing mechanism to expose corruption at the grassroots.

“We hope at the end of the process, we would have cultivated a citizenry that is conscious of its role in tackling the menace of corruption.

“As Nigerians, we must be aware that the fight against corruption is not one to be left for the government alone.

“We all have roles to play, and this is what the whistleblowing policy seeks to achieve,” he said.

Also, Mr David Oluwole of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), said that a whistleblower protection law would encourage more Nigerians to have confidence to pass useful information that could prevent the occurrence of corrupt practices.

“The protection policy at ICPC have ensured that whistleblowers are not exposed to danger.

“We have several instances where persons who were wrongfully disengaged from their jobs were reinstated.

“Some were placed on suspension, we ensure that they are brought back to their duty posts,” he said.

In his remarks, Mr Sola Fagurosi, Executive Director, One Life Initiative, said that building a network of community-based whistleblowers was key to tackling corruption in the country. (NAN)

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