BACKGROUND TO DELIBERATIONS
The Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) with support from the MacArthur Foundation held a town hall meeting against corruption on September 18, 2020. The theme of the town hall meeting was Whistleblowers and The Challenge of Absence of Legal Protection: Cases of Dismissal of Whistleblowers.
The aim of the meeting was to highlight the steady rise of persecution of whistle blowers, as well as task the Federal Government on protection of whistle blowers and to strengthen whistle blowers’ policy through legislation. The meeting also became important looking at the significance of whistle blowing anti-corruption war in Nigeria.
The meeting featured cases of individuals who became victims after blowing the whistle on corruption. The story of Ms Fidelia Onoghaife who was sacked by the Netherlands Embassy in Abuja after she blew the whistle on OPL 245 fraud was told, and also that of another Nigerian, Ameh Joseph, who was sacked after revealing corrupt activities at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State.
Other participants at the meeting include: Dr Kole Shettima, African Director, MacArthur Foundation; Prof Chidi Odinkalu, Senior Team Manager, Open Society Justice Initiative; Suraju Olanrewaju, Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (Heda Resources Centre); Godwin Onyeacholem, Senior Program Officer, African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (Africmil); President of the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) Igho Akeregha and Tunde Salman, Convener, Good Governance Team.
In the course of deliberation, participants at the town hall meeting noted the following:
– Public service in Nigeria is configured in such a way that whistle blowing is discouraged. The system makes whistle blowers to have no hiding place.
– The underlying attitude and configuration about public service space is fundamentally opposed to transparency and accountability.
– The whistle blowing policy remains a policy with no legal backing.
– The government is exhibiting lack of political will to enforce protection for whistle blowers.
– Without jurisdiction in place, patriotic Nigerians will continue to face persecution, ability to protect them would be limited and citizen will lose interest.
– National Orientation Agency, Federal Ministry of Information and anti-graft agencies not doing enough to protect whistle blowers.
– President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration’s effort in the fight against corruption uninspiring
– The political class unwillingness to protect whistle blowers.
– Nigerians urged not to relent in reporting all criminal cases.
– Civil Society Organizations should continue to work with support from foundations and other stakeholders to intensify education and cooperation in securing legislation to protect whistleblowers.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
1. Nigeria needs to create its own mechanism of protection by establishing a whistle blower fund which could be administered by concession of interested action.
2. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders to continue to work in synergy and campaign for legislation for the strengthening of the whistleblower policy.
3. In the absence of the enactment of comprehensive whistle blower law, the Executive and legislative arm of the government should be held responsible using the media.
4. There should be mechanisms to support the victims of whistle blowing and all the people who have been victimized should be compensated.