Worried by incessant cases of punitive actions against patriotic Nigerians who volunteer information about corrupt individuals, stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency prioritise safety and security of whistle-blowers.
Aside security of those who provide information, the federal government has also been urged to expedite action in paying whistle-blowers what is due to them, to enhance the credibility of the system.
The appeals were part of resolutions at the end of the National Summit on Whistleblowing organized by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in collaboration with the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
Participants at the summit called on the federal government to set up an independent governance structure to manage the whistleblowing initiative and take charge of recoveries made through the initiative, to ensure accountability.
The summit also lamented lack of coordination in the fight against corruption among the various anti-corruption and security agencies in the country, calling on the government to ensure that the agencies close their ranks.
The stakeholders observed that while the whistle-blower policy is a viable anticorruption tool capable of enhancing citizens’ involvement and revamping anticorruption efforts in Nigeria, little has been done to legalize and provide protection for Nigerians willing to give tips on sharp practices in public offices.
They also expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that states and local governments in the country have not demonstrated adequate interest in keying into the federal government’s anticorruption campaign.
Participants noted that “the delay on the part of the Federal Government in constituting the Boards of Parastatals and MDAs, including those of some anticorruption agencies, in the past two years, is hampering the fight against corruption.”
The summit noted with disdain the inability of successive governments to put in place systems that will enable the country to “adequately account for the revenues from extractive industry which constitute about 85% of the country’s revenue.”
The summit was also concerned that CSOs have been continuously kept out of the processes of the implementation of the whistleblower policy, and other initiatives of the government, calling on the government to reverse the trend.
The summit recommended that “measures should be urgently put in place by relevant agencies to address the security of whistle-blowers and resolve cases of persons who are persecuted for giving out information.
“There is urgent need for government to set up independent governance structure comprising representatives of anti-corruption agencies and credible Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to oversee the implementation of the whistleblower policy.”
Participants urged the National Assembly to pass into law the whistle-blower protection and other relevant bills to boost the anti-corruption fight.
They commended whistle-blowers for their courage in giving information, despite the possible dangers they face. They also commended the MacArthur Foundation for supporting the whistle-blower project.
The summit’s communique was signed by AFRICMIL’s Godwin Onyeacholem, Chairman of Kano State Public Complaints & Anti-Corruption Commission (KSPCACC), Mr. Muhuyi Magaji and the Executive Director of the Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (RCHRCE), Comrade Ibrahim Zikirullahi, on behalf of the more than 80 participants from over 50 organisations that attended the summit.