Sunday, 19 March 2017 11:29

Despite New Promises To Reward Whistle-Blowers, Many Remain Skeptical

Despite the assurances, the public reportedly remains sceptical about Federal Government's promise to reward whistle-blowers who provide information that leads to the recovery of stolen funds or assets.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday in fresh promise said the federal government will also protect the whistle-blowers. 
 
''For those who may have suffered any backlash as a result of the information they provide, their cases will be reviewed and appropriate mitigating actions taken,'' he said.
 
''Whistle-blowers have nothing to fear, because the committee has put in place the necessary measures to safeguard those who give useful information. As a matter of fact, whistle-blowers have everything to gain and nothing to lose,'' he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the assurance followed the presentations made to the Presidential Assets Recovery Committee by concerned citizens and groups about the safety of whistle-blowers.
 
''For example, if a whistle-blower provides information leading to the recovery of 10 billion Naira, he or she will receive 5% of the first 1 billion Naira, 4% of the next 4 billion Naira and 2.5% of the remaining 5 billion Naira.

But would-be whistleblowers, beware. The financial rewards for exposing fraud can be sweet, but the experience is one of uncertainty and despair, and most whistleblowers walk away with no money at all, according to Per Second News findings in other countries.
 
Years of litigations in court, change of government and policies can affect whistle-blowers compensation and protection.
 
To many, the rise of the whistle-blowing in Nigeria is a fantastic development. With the government overworked and understaffed, whistle-blowers offer valuable assistance. They report wrongdoing that the government has not discovered, and they also know how the system operates because they work in the industry. Whistle-blowers can therefore explain new complex financial instruments to government officials who are one step behind and may not even know the instruments exist.
 
This explains the government’s eager embrace of whistle-blowers and mega-size payments.
 
"There is the lottery and then there is being a corporate whistle-blower. It seems both pay out a jackpot, but the latter is a quicker path to riches, even when the recipient turns out to be a wrongdoer as well, says Mercy Okpocha a Lagos based lawyer.
 
"Do we have laws to protect whistle-blowers against retaliation, she asked. Agencies, companies still marginalize and harassed employees who come forward."
 
“Not every tip is credible she said. “Whislte-blowers will be required to sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that the information they are submitting is true. It’s a control. So that the anti-corruption agencies don't get inundated with nonsense.”
 
Whistle-blowers may face hostility and resentment from peers and superiors like the case of Mr. Ntia Thompson, an assistant director with the Directorate for Technical Cooperation in Africa, who was sacked for exposing the illegal diversion of $229,000 and N800,000 by key officials in the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
 
Ntia Thompson was initially suspended from work on December 19, 2016 and was finally dismissed from service on February 7, 2017.
 
Prosecutors in Luxembourg have called for an 18-month sentence for the whistleblowers behind the “Luxleaks” scandal, which revealed widespread tax avoidance by some of the world’s largest companies.
 
 
Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet, who both worked for PwC, are accused of leaking thousands of documents that unveiled the tax practices of the likes of Ikea and Pepsi. Edouard Perrin, the French journalist who first broke the story is also on trial, with prosecutors calling for him to be fined on Tuesday.
 
Shehla Masood a 38-year-old businesswoman living in the central Indian city of Bhopal, was shot and killed near her home on Aug. 16, 2011, after availing herself of India’s Right to Information Act in order to expose local corruption.
 
Masood was one of several whistleblowers killed or attacked in India before the passing of the country’s  Whistleblower protection bill. Her Story demonstrates the considerable threat of retaliation for whistleblowing.
 
 
"The federal government must have whistleblowers protections under federal law, says Tolu Ademola, human rights lawyer.
 
" We need to enact a corporate, financial, manufacturing whistleblower protections law, we need Federal and State employee whistleblower protections".

“Whistleblowers are like eyes and ears of the public,” said Dorothy Ibekwe, a corruption hunter with the Anti-Corruption group Against Corruption.  “But when there is no protection, there will be retaliation on them.”

To encourage whistleblowing, the federal government must provide strong legal measures to protect the whistleblower from retaliatory actions.

 

 

 

 


  


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last modified on Sunday, 26 March 2017 22:06

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