“You have the responsibility to take practical actions to protect a Nigerian citizen who was sacked for providing relevant information on corruption and the sovereign wealth of the Nigerian people” HEDA said in the petition.
The Whistlebower was sacked by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs after she revealed relevant information expected to aid local and international investigation into the corrupt acquisition of OPL 245oil field involving Shell and Eni oil companies.
Onyeama also should invite the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the actions it will take to ensure that such a breach does not reoccur.
“We urge you to strongly consider suspending the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Consultations between Nigeria and the Netherlands signed in 2018 and the 2019 Agreements signed during the Dutch Prime Minister’s visit to Abuja in 2019” said HEDA and its partners, urging the Minister to brief the Parliamentary Committees on Treaties and Foreign Affairs on this development and ensure their debate and resolution on the international dimensions and implications of the issues be raised.
“This dutiful and patriotic Nigerian was sacked by the Dutch embassy for performing her civic duty. It is unfortunate that she has been left to carry her cross, all lone,” the letter said.
The groups have been leading the anti-corruption crusade investigating corruption by Nigerian politicians and officials including the complicity of European banks, companies and others linked to the OPL 245 deal.
A particular focus of HEDA’s work has been the corrupt acquisition by Shell and Eni of the OPL 245 oil field, which has also exposed alleged corruption by two former Attorney Generals of Nigeria together with former oil ministers. The companies and individuals that are being prosecuted have all denied wrongdoings. The issue has raised global concerns leading to litigation in Italy.
In 2017, Robert Petri the the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria allegedly warned a local director of Shell about an impending visit by officers of the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service, a government agency that investigates financial crimes.
The groups said the Ambassador’s actions potentially put the integrity of that investigation at risk, not least because of the risk that Shell might destroy documents or influence the process of investigation not open to Shell at the time.
The letter states:”The Dutch Parliament is on record to have questioned the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the roles of Ambassador Petri on this, reflecting the concerns of MPs about the ramifications of his actions for the investigations into corruption by Shell and the potential international diplomatic repercussions of his breach of confidence.”
“It takes courage to blow the whistle on wrongdoing by the powerful. The whistleblower did not flinch from her clear duty to do so. However, instead of being protected – as all whistleblowers should be – she was dismissed from her post, despite a previous assurance that her job would not be at risk from her whistleblower action.
At the time of her dismissal, the whistleblower was not informed why she was fired” the anti-corruption groups said.
HEDA said though she was alleged to be high-handed in her behaviour and unpopular with staff, however, if that was the case, the evidence she has presented in Dutch court proceedings shows she never received any warnings nor any opportunity to make representations of her own.
“Indeed, her record of employment was unblemished. Her evaluations were always very good and, immediately before she was sacked, her contract had been extended for 7 years.”
The groups said Nigeria cannot and should not look on when one of its citizens is being so shamefully abused. According to the groups, Nigeria has also been treated with disdain, adding that a relationship between two governments is always based on element of trust and this element has been violated.
They said that information sharing between Nigeria and The Netherlands is critical to fighting corruption and to promoting common interests.
“This is recognised by the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Consultations between Nigeria and the Netherlands that you negotiated and signed in 2018 and by subsequent Agreements signed during the Dutch Prime Minister’s visit to Nigeria in 2019.