Foreign Affairs Ministry ‘flouts’ Buhari govt’s whistle blowing policy, then keeps mum

GEOFFREY-ONYEAMA [Photo credit: guardian.ng]
GEOFFREY-ONYEAMA [Photo credit: guardian.ng]

The Foreign Affairs Ministry is offering no explanation for its decision to flout a new government’s anti-corruption policy, by sacking a whistle blower who exposed an alleged $229,000 fraud.

Ntia Thompson was fired after sending a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, asking it to probe an allegation of fraud involving some top officials of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, DTCA.

The move came just two months after the Buhari administration, through the Executive Council of the Federation, approved the whistle-blowing policy, promising full protection and restitution for any informant against harassment, intimidation or victimisation.

Mr. Ntia, an assistant director with the DTCA in charge of the SERVICOM Unit, who blew the lid on how $229,000 and N800, 000 were allegedly diverted, was sacked on February 7.

Official documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed that although the money was withdrawn from the Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund, NTCF, there was no evidence it was used for the purpose it was meant.

The NTCF is a trust fund domiciled with the African Development Bank, AfDB, but jointly managed by the bank and the agency on behalf of the Federal Government.

The documents show that officials of the agency withdrew the money for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the NTCF, for which $36,852.00 was allocated. The amount was also meant for the monitoring of various projects executed from the Trust Fund across Africa.

Some employees of the DTCA suspected fraud when another N800, 000.00 was withdrawn by the same officials allegedly for SERVICOM “sensitization seminar” in the Directorate and the sale of boarded government vehicles.

Amid concerns the funds may have been diverted, Mr. Thompson petitioned the EFCC to investigate the allegation. He also petitioned the Police Inspector General, Ibrahim Idris, expressing concerns about his safety.

Although the anti-graft agency launched an investigation into the petition, its effort only resulted in compelling the officials to refund about N800, 000, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Shortly after, the DTCA management issued Mr. Thompson a query, accusing him of leaking official information to the Commission, thereby subjecting the agency to public ridicule and embarrassment.

On December 19, 2016, Mr. Thompson was served a letter by the Head, Department of Administration/Secretary to the Senior Staff Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee, Sanda Isah, suspending him from office with immediate effect.

Mr. Isah’s letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, accused Mr. Thompson of petitioning the IGP over alleged threat to his life and that of his family members by the Acting Director-General and Head of Programmes Management of DTCA, Mohammed Kachallah and Garba Mohammed, respectively.

“In view of the weighty nature of this allegation, the police carried out a thorough inquest into the matter and turned in the final report. The report exonerated the two officers mentioned in the allegation of criminal intimidation, thereby establishing that you made false claims against government officials.

“Against the backdrop of these serious infractions, the Inter-ministerial meeting of the Senior Staff Appointment, Promotion and Disciplinary Committee met and looked into these issues in line with the provisions of the PSR.

“The committee recommended for your suspension from office pending the outcome of a final report of a sub-committee set up on the matter.”

After two months on suspension, the whistleblower’s career was abruptly terminated on February 7, 2017.

Mr. Thompson was only aware of his sack through a post on the DTCA’s notice Board informing staff that the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Abba-Ibrahim, who supervises the agency, had authorised his compulsory retirement from service.

The notice was signed by Mr. Isah, the same Head of Administration Department in DTCA, who had earlier issued the suspension letter.

A notice posted on the board of the DTCA to all staff read: “I am directed to inform you that following the recommendations of the Senior Staff Appointment Promotion and Disciplinary Committee on Acts of Serious Misconduct against Mr. Ntia U. Thompson, the Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chairman Presidential Inter-Ministerial Committee on the DTCA, has approved the Compulsory Retirement of Mr. Ntia U. Thompson from the services of the DTCA with effect from 7th February 2017.

“In view of the above, Mr. Ntia U Thompson ceased to be a staff of the DTCA with effect from 7th February 2017. All members of staff and the general public are hereby advised to take note”.

When PREMIUM TIMES called Mr. Isah on telephone to clarify some issues about the circumstances of Mr. Thompson’s sack, he said he could not give such details, as he was directed to sign the letter that conveyed the information.

He refused to mention who gave the directive, neither was he prepared to speak on allegation that members of the 14-member panel constituted to investigate allegations of breach of civil service rules leveled against Mr. Thompson were compromised.

The Director-General of DTCA, Muhammed Kachallah, refused to respond to our calls and text messages.

The spokesman for the foreign affairs ministry, Clement Aduku, did not also respond.

Gideon Dangiwa, the man tasked with interrogating Mr. Thompson as the disciplinary panel met, also refused to give details of his findings.

“I cannot discuss the details of my findings with you. Go to the Chairman, DTCA, he will give you his file, record of service and details of what he (Mr. Thompson) did. I was only co-opted into the committee. He is not working here (Ministry of Foreign Affairs),” he said.


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  • Du Covenant

    Nigerians are there own worst enemies. Why throw a spanner in the works when this policy is already yielding results?. We are well known for making one right step forward while make three backward. There is no serious country on this planet that does not have a whistle-blower’s policy. Even private organisations have such policies in place to employees who blow the whistle. The thieving elites in Nigeria have become so bold because no one can anonymously report them. I hope this Ministry has a good rationale otherwise the person should be re-instated with immediate effect!.

    • Fantastically

      The Minister is protecting his job!

      • Du Covenant

        He has just exposed himself as one of our enemies within and should be the one to go instead.

  • vay

    The head of the ministry should be sacked immediately n be investigated if he can’t give reasons for sacking the whistle blower……. Period

    • Haba mallam

      In the other hand whistleblowing should not be used to settle scores among employees, if one is accused falsely damage is done to their reputation permanently. Further investigation is needed or the accused should prove otherwise.

      • vay

        Yeah right! That’s why he should give reasonable reason the whistle blower is sacked if it’s justified…. Then he is vindicated

  • Rommel

    This case should be referred to industrial court immediately so we understand if there was a case of wrongful dismissal

  • Fantastically

    Nigeria current foreign minister is one of the most useless ministers in Buhari’s government. He is laid back, lazy, insensitive. He has no business occupying that position. He is a huge waste of space.

    • Haba mallam

      I have to agreed with you, this man should be Place, we need a dynamic foreign minister who project a firm strong and no nonsense image. We are the most powerful black nation and must be felt like that around the world. I say replace him with Abire Erinwa.

      • Haba mallam

        Its Abiki Dabiri Erewa typo

  • Maitama Tambari

    Two allegations by Thompson, allegation on money withdrawn and spent and allegation on his life which both were investigated by the Agencies responsible. Yes EFCC recommended the refund of N800,000 according to the report. This is the area of corruption which is being commented on line and the second issue which is pure civil service issue was triggered by Thompson to IGP. Investigation took place by an independent body and management exonerated from the accusation. Disciplinary measure had been taken purely as prescribed by the Civil Service Rules and appropriate Authority approved it. He can appeal to Federal Civil Service Commission with a danger of dismissal for the gravity of the offense of accusing officers on malicious act investigated by an outside Agency because there is always internal mechanism to conduct the internal investigation which if he is not satisfied then he could have appealed to the appointing Authority. He did not seek that window of opportunity.

    • Ashibogu

      Nonsense. Misappropriation, misapplication of funds is a criminal offense. The DG is from Borno, the Minister of State is from Yobe. I smell a rat! What a coincidence!

      • Haba mallam

        You must incorporate ethnic or religious dimensions to anything discuss in Nigeria today, have some confidence in Nigeria please

  • Maria

    Anywhere Yanminrins head… it always smells of crime.

  • [SANUSI] Vs [Foreign Affairs]

    ACT 1, SCENE 1
    So, in the evening of Wednesday February 27, Mrs. Yaro flew to Lagos ahead of Mr. Sanusi, skipping work, at taxpayers’ expense, on Thursday February 28 and Friday, March 1… To keep faith with Mrs. Yaro’s date, the CBN governor arrived Lagos, travelling on a chartered flight, on the night of February 28, and checked into the Federal Palace Hotel, passage and boarding all at taxpayers’ expense.

    ACT 1, SCENE 2
    Mrs. Yaro arrived Lagos on the night of March 15, and immediately checked into the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel on Victoria Island. Mr. Sanusi flew from Kano to Lagos via chartered jet on the bills of the Nigerian taxpayers. He arrived at about 11 p.m., stopped by his Ikoyi home, before dashing to the hotel where Mrs. Yaro was waiting in a seductive dress in Room 23. The lovers spent that night and the next day together in the hotel…Both Mr. Sanusi and Mrs. Yaro rendezvoused in the hotel till Sunday when both of them returned to Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.


    ————————————————————-
    “…I had such a wonderful weekend,” Mrs. Yaro confessed to the governor while aboard her Abuja-bound flight. “You have revived in me what I thought I lost long ago. I thought I lost the passion to love again,” she claimed.
    “Alhamdulillahi. Love you,” Mr. Sanusi responded in a measured tone —– Premium Times, June 2, 2013

    ….and he became an Emir=King= of his people…possible only in warped Nigeria

    ————————
    This case of foreign affairs can be likened to the immorality of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and his abuse of office by rendezvouring in hotels with female staff as a public official…and then getting to the throne through unpopular mandate sparking violent protests in Kano. So there is precedence. Today Sanusi preaches holiness from the throne and advises his ‘followers’ on how many wives to marry while remaining silent on how many mistresses one should have. Judgement day will be very interesting and if you are unlucky to be immediately behind people like him, God help you, because you will have to wait a very long time before it is your turn,

  • Investigator

    Tell us how and why Buhari remains silent on these 2 issues:
    1) Capture of Abubakar Shekau (Dead or alive)
    2) The sponsors of Boko Haram and prosecution of politicians indicted by General Irabor on BBC

  • amazing2012

    …NGO over to you !

  • Mentus

    Would-be whistle blowers should be careful who they try to implicate or else they will end up burning their fingers like poor Thompson.
    If the allegations were made about opponents and not appointees of this administration, EFCC would have waded in or even DSS would have arrived and handcuffed the guy.
    The fact that money was refunded quietly shows there must have been some shady dealing in the first place. This should have justified the allegation. Unfortunately even with that the guy still lost his job.
    The whole saga confirms that this fight against corruption remains one-sided. As had been said there will never be enough evidence to indict insiders in this administration.