While the Federal Government basks in the success of the whistle blowing policy, there is the urgent need to ensure that the programme is sustainable and that whistle blowers are guaranteed protection from intimidation, threat or victimisation through the passage of a Whistle Blowers Protection Law.
Speaking at the weekend, a security expert and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Holistic Security Background Checks Limited, Mr. Don Okereke, said whistle blowing is a risky adventure, adding that it was important to protect whistle blowers, especially in Nigeria where insecurity is pervasive.
He recalled that a Whistle Blower Protection Bill was passed by the Seventh National Assembly in 2015, and a sequel sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi meant to protect persons who expose financial improprieties and corruption in public and private organisations also passed second reading in the Senate since last October.
Okereke, therefore, urged the Senate to liaise with President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure speedy signing of the bill into a law. “This will encourage more whistleblowers to come forward. It is not enough to recover so-called looted funds or illegal weapons, it is important that Nigeria’s criminal justice system is rejigged.
“This is to ensure diligent prosecution of culprits, swift dispensation of justice, while also ensuring that the rule of law prevails. Blowing a whistle is very simple and easy, but the consequence may not be that simple,” he said.
Okereke urged the Federal Government to take a cue from the United States’ Whistle-blower Protection Act, a federal law that protects federal whistle blowers who work for the government and report agencies’ misconduct.
Information on the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) website said the whistle-blowing programme was “designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation of financial regulations, mismanagement of public funds and assets, financial malpractice, fraud and theft to report it”.
He said the whistle-blowing policy encourages whistle blowers to provide information in respect of mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets, collection or soliciting of bribes, diversion of revenues, making of fraudulent and unapproved payments, and splitting of contracts and procurement fraud, among others.