THE last has not been heard of the controversies surrounding the payment of the five per cent commission to the whistle-blower who gave the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) tips that led to the recovery of $43.4 million, N23.3 million and 27,800 Euros that were stashed in an apartment at the Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos, on April 22, as the original whistle-blowers have petitioned the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, PRNigeria has learnt.
In a petition, dated August 24, addressed to the AGF and received on September 8, solicitors to the claimants, No Limit Legal Partners, on behalf of Abdulmumin Musa, Mr Stephen Sunday and Mr Bala Usman told the AGF that his clients by the workings of EFCC had short changed the whistle-blowers by bringing others who were not the arrowhead of the whistle-blowing.
The solicitors noted that “Our clients informed us sometime in December 2016 that three of them voluntarily walked into the office of the EFCC at 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos and gave vital information that led to the recovery of over N13 billion at the Ikoyi Towers, Lagos.”
The legal practitioners further told the AGF that “upon subsequent visit to give a detailed information as required by the commission to raid the tower, they were told if the operation was successful, five per cent of the amount recovered will be their take-home within 72 hours of recovery, they were also cautioned that if the information happened to be false, then they will definitely be in trouble which the three mentioned above accepted because they were sure of their facts.”
The petition continues: “That when the operation was carried out, it was successful but since then, they have not received any commendation by the commission, let alone give any reward as stated even though the EFCC have their names and phone numbers.”
The petitioners said rather than do the needful, some of the EFCC staff gave them further information that they were not the only people who gave them information on the Ikoyi Tower as others were also involved without mentioning them.
Upon various meetings by the three persons, they agreed to go back and meet the Head of EFCC operations, Alhaji Samaila Muhammed and were told on their visit that the numbers have increased to nine who made the report urging them to bring the remaining persons.
When contacted on the matter, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance on Media and Communications, Mr Yinka Akintunde, said such issues be referred to EFCC and not the responsibility of the ministry.
He added that the ministry came in when the rightful persons were duly recognised by the relevant authorities for payment after due process.
When PRNigeria contacted the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr Wilsom Uwujaren, to explain the role of the commission on the matter, he said several persons had, in the past, besieged the commission to say they were part of whistle-blowing.
He confirmed that the commission had records of the original whistle-blowers of the Ikoyi Towers, stressing that all would be done to make sure that the right persons were paid accordingly.
Meanwhile, PRNigeria has learnt that the petitioners are heading to the court to stop the payment to wrong persons who were not involved in the whistle-blowing.
They added that two clear months after the submission of the petition to the AGF, nothing concrete had been done by the minister to look into their matter.
They alleged that the EFCC sold out in the processes leading to the recovery of the said amount, stating that the development would discourage genuine whistle-blowers in the fight against corruption by the present administration.
There were recent controversies as to whether the whistle-blower had already been paid or not between the EFCC and the Ministry of Finance.
Explaining the development, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on Sunday, gave reasons the whistle-blower had not been paid.
Her response came at a time Nigerians placed the blames on the doorstep of the Federal Government over its unwillingness to pay the whistle-blower his five per cent commission as enshrined in the policy.
Falana urges NASS to pass whistle-blowing protection bill
In another development, Mr Femi Falana, has called on the National Assembly to hasten the passage of the Whistle-blowing Protection Bill to facilitate the fight against corruption in the country.
Falana made the call in Abuja, on Tuesday, at the National Stakeholders’ Summit on Whistle-blowing, organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRIMIL).
He said the bill, when passed, would facilitate the fight against corruption by protecting persons with potential and reliable information on the war against corruption.
The activist also called for proper implementation of the whistle-blowing policy, adding that it was the duty of every citizen to report crimes for a societal change.
He decried the attitude of brutal attacks on whistle-blowers and numerous challenges faced by them, which included denial of entitlements, charge to court, attacks, and murder.
Falana, however, appealed that recovered loots should not be channeled towards funding the budget but rather should be a special funding in the country.
Falana tasked whistle-blowers not to limit their monitoring to Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but to spread it to other agencies.
He pledged to take up any matter concerning harassment of whistle-blowers once reported.
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