Media Rights Agenda supports govt’s whistle-blowing programme

edetaen-ojo

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a non-governmental organisation, says it will continue to support any initiative aimed at protecting whistle-blowers of corrupt practices.

Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of the organisation, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.

“Since 2002, non-governmental organisations, including MRA have advocated the adoption of a comprehensive Whistle-blower Protection Act.

“A bill to this effect was submitted to the National Assembly in 2002 under the aegis of the Zero Corruption Coalition.

“Besides the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Malam Nuhu Ribadu, showed interest in it.

“The bill received no support from the executive and in spite of civil society advocacy efforts and the attitude of the legislators towards the bill, it died in the National Assembly.

“We are pleased that the Buhari’s administration is now taking the initiative on the issue of the protection of whistle-blowers.

“We propose that the administration ensure the passage of the bill as soon as possible because its provisions are consistent with international best practice and standards,” he said.

He said the organisation was ready to support the National Assembly to actualise the vision of the Buhari administration to nip corruption in the bud.

Mr. Ojo said the whistle-blower protection framework was “critically important for transforming the Nigerian society and reversing decades of official corruption and other wrongdoing’’.

He also said adequate protection for those exposing corruption would boost the confidence of Nigerians to expose corruption.

“Paying a whistle-blower between 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent of the amount recovered as a result of the information provided by the person is very controversial but we fully support it.

“It is imperative that an enabling environment is created where the whistle-blower will feel reasonably safe enough to take the risk.

“It is also important to provide the whistle-blower with some compensation for the risks and, in some instances, the actual reprisals that he or she may suffer.’’

Mr. Ojo cited South Korea as an example of countries where the “Anti-Corruption Act allows whistle-blowers who have reported cases of corruption to get up to 20 per cent of the total amount of fraud proceeds recovered.

He said some countries even allowed up to 30 per cent funds to the whistle-blowers, adding that such an initiative would succeed in Nigeria.

The Federal Government has approved the Whistle-blowing Programme to reward individuals who volunteers credible information on stolen or concealed funds with between 2.5 and five per cent of the funds when recovered.

The programme was designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper financial activity that impacted negatively on Nigerians and government, to report such.

It is expected to serve as a stop-gap until a bill on the same matter, presently before the National Assembly, is passed into law.

(NAN)


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