The Whistle Blower Protection Bill is one of the tools that can be used to fight against corruption. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows freedom of expression. This includes speaking out in a case of observed wrongful conducts and corrupt practices.
In recent times, whistleblowers are perceived as disloyal employees and troublemakers. Reporting misconduct has caused some employees to be victimised by their employers as well as fellow employees, thus employees generally do not feel protected enough to come forward with information on misconducts and corrupt practices.
In August, 2011, Dr. Ben Agada of National Women Development Centre, Abuja was unlawfully dismissed from service for exposing N300million meant for poverty alleviation programme allegedly embezzled by some top officers at the Centre. In November 2012, the Executive Director of Technical Services of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Bashir Gwandu was relieved of his position for uncovering alleged corruption in Commission.
Similarly, the recent revelation of wastefulness in the Aviation by one Mr. Nicholas Edwards, a staff of the Ministry of Aviation has posed some threats against his job and life. These among other cases have brought to the fore the importance of whistle-blower’s in Nigeria. Though whistleblowing would have gone a long way at exposing all manner of corrupt practices in the nation’s socio-political and economic atmospheres; but the absence of laws guiding whistle-blowing and protecting whistle-blowers has restricted effort of whistleblowers to expose corruption.
In the same vein, on Thursday 20th February, 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan suspended Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from office on the grounds that he revealed unremitted $49.8 billion oil revenue and $20 billion kerosene subsidy to the Federation Account by NNPC. The purported suspension of the Governor is unwarranted in accordance with section 11 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 which clearly laid
down the instances when the Governor or any of his Deputies can cease to remain in office. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, none of such instances include suspension by the President.
The alleged removal of the Central Bank Governor is a continuation of the atrocious illegalities perpetrated by some untouchable public officers under the present administration. The action of President Jonathan is unconstitutional and a deliberate attempt to silence whistleblowers in the country.
There are several unreported cases of corruption worthy of exposure on daily basis; however, continuous victimizations and unjust treatments against whistleblowers have threatened other persons who volunteer to report various corrupt practices for fear of victimization and lack of
The resultant threats on well-being of person or persons that exposed high-level corruption and abuse of office in Nigeria have re-established the immediate need for effective legal framework for whistle-blowing and the protection of whistle-blowers in all facets of our national life.
Therefore, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) calls for the prompt legislation of the Whistle Blower Protection regime to safeguard the lives of whistleblowers. This will help to motivate, encourage and assure whistleblowers that government and its agencies are willing and committed to fighting corruption and corrupt practices in its entire ramification.
CISLAC calls on ICPC and EFCC to: strengthen whistleblowing mechanisms within public offices using Anti-corruption and Transparency Monitoring Units; institute an open-door policy that encourages employees to speak with their superiors and express their concerns; encourage anonymous reporting to protect the whistleblower’s identity. The ultimate protection, in this regard lies with appropriate legislation in this regard and a vibrant judicial system.
CISLAC calls on National Assembly to hasten the passage of Whistleblower Protection Bill and continuously carry out its oversights without fear or favour.
CISLAC also calls on ICPC and EFCC to work closely with dedicated CSOs on anti-corruption to promote whistleblowing and provide dedicated hotline for reporting corruption cases. All government agencies should comply with the provisions of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to minimize corruption and secrecy that impair good governance, transparency and openness.
CISLAC further calls on the media not to relent in their efforts in exposing corruption as part of their obligations. CISLAC urges all well-meaning Nigerians to show interest in and actively support the Whistle-blower Protection regime.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)