Civil society organisations call for reinstatement of suspended police whistle-blower

Mike Okiro, the chairman of the PSC.

The Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, has called for the reinstatement of a whistle-blower in the Police Service Commission, PSC, Aaron Kaase.

In a petition sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and signed by CSNAC’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the coalition urged Mr. Lawal to urgently beam searchlight on the report of the whistle-blower in the commission.

Mr. Suraju, in the petition, also called for the suspension of the commission’s indicted Director of Admin and Finance, Emmanuel Ibe.

According to the petition, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, had on February 22 arraigned Mr. Ibe before Justice C.N. Oji of an Abuja high court on a nine-count charge bordering on alleged N11.75 million fraud.

Mr Ibe, the petition said, was alleged to have paid N11.750 million to some staff of PSC in March 2015 as airfare and airport taxi allowance to travel to seven states within Nigeria on official duties even while there were no connecting flights from Abuja to these states, thereby contravening Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other offences Act 2000.

But CSNAC noted that, despite the allegations levelled against him, Mr. Ibe is still at his official desk, a situation that may enable him use his office to interfere with investigation and destroy evidences.

CSNAC, however, noted that the whistle-blower, Mr. Kaase, who alerted the government to the fraud, has remained on suspension since May 2015 without pay, even as his efforts facilitated the ICPC investigations that prompted the PSC to refund N133m to government coffers.

The anti-graft coalition, therefore, called for the immediate interdiction of Mr. Ibe from work as Director Administration and Finance of PSC to enable ICPC carry out unhindered investigation and prosecution. It also called for the prosecution of others indicted by the ICPC report, particularly Mike Okiro, the Chairman of the Commission.

In the same vein, CSNAC also called for the reinstatement of the whistle-blower, Mr. Kaase, stressing that all his outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits due to him be paid.

Another group, the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, also called for an immediate end to the reported persecution of Mr. Kaase.

A statement by the centre’s coordinator, Chido Onumah, disclosed that not only had Mr. Kaase been on suspension without pay since May 2015, “he is currently being arraigned in court on some dubious charges manufactured by some top officials of PSC”.

“A whistle-blower deserves full protection and not victimisation or persecution in any form,” Mr. Onumah said.

“Otherwise, potential whistle-blowers will feel disinclined to reporting fraud and that will sound a death knell to the whistle-blower policy in its infancy, and the anti-corruption war in the long run,” he added.

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