A renowned Nigerian human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, has advocated for the establishment of an independent whistleblowers’ office in order for Nigeria’s whistleblowing policy to be more effective and protective of whistleblowers.
The human rights lawyer said this during a two-day conference, “Tracking Noxious Funds,” held in Lagos.
The conference, which was organized by Kent Law School at the University of Kent, in partnership with some Nigerian civil society organizations and human rights advocates, enjoyed the presence of some prominent Nigerian lawyers, law enforcement agencies, journalists and human right activists.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Falana explained that Nigeria’s colonial past prevented whistleblowing from taking off in the country, as it caused many Nigerians to not trust the government and therefore made many reluctant to share information with the government.
He added that in the recent past, individuals have attempted to sponsor a whistleblowing bill but the past president, Goodluck Jonathan, refused to assent the bill after it passed the assembly stages, adding that a similar fate might stand against the current administration’s bid to have a similar bill passed by the National Assembly.
“In 2008, a legislator from Lagos State, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, borrowing a leaf from the United States tried to sponsor a bill to project whistleblowers. That bill was in the parliament for 7 years. At the end of the day when the seventh assembly was going to pack it up, they tried to pass the bill, but the president, who did not know the difference between stealing and corruption, did not sign that bill into law.
“President Buhari, through PACAC, submitted another whistleblowing bill to the national assembly but I can predict that the national assembly led by Senator Saraki is not likely to pass that bill. So what the government has done out of frustration is to design a whistleblowing policy,” Mr. Falana said.
He commented on the successes that the policy has made in recent times and how other government agencies, such as the Nigeria Police Force, through the Inspector General of Police, have announced that they would adopt the policy in fighting crimes in the country.
“The area I find extremely interesting about whistleblowing is that many whistleblowers of many government officials have blown the whistle under the Buhari administration. The president has encouraged members of his family and aides to blow the whistle,” he said.
Mr. Falana cited the example of the outcry by the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, and her daughter, Zahra Buhari, about the lack of facilities in the Aso Rock clinic.
He also challenged the people to assist the government in fighting corruption in the country.