July 16, 2021.

Participants at a Radio Town Hall Meeting on whistleblowing and whistleblowers protection have identified inadequate punishment or selective prosecution of Nigerians involved in corruption as major discouragement to citizens reporting corruption around them.

Project Manager at Say No Campaign, James Ugochukwu, and Broadcast Media Consult, Uzor Amadi both made the disclosure during the radio program organized by the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) in collaboration with the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG), Friday in Abuja.

Speaking on the topic: Citizens and Whistleblowing, Ugochukwu stated that citizens’ morale to blow the whistle against corruption is continuously dampened by the little punishment or selective prosecution of corrupt Nigerians by anti-graft agencies in the country.
He added that the lack of trust in the administration of justice in Nigeria and fear of victimization were making citizens reluctant to report corruption.

“The anti-graft agencies need to live true to their mandate to ensure that there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption. Because so long that there are sacred cows, so long that we have people that are untouchable then the anti-corruption fight is just a child’s play because we all are watching.

“The anti-corruption agencies have to self-clean themselves because it’s not every corrupt case tabled before them that they take very seriously due to several reasons, and this tends to dampen the morale of the citizens.”

Ugochukwu, however, stressed the need for more enlightenment of the ordinary Nigerians on how to safely blow the whistle against corruption. He also urged citizens to rise up to the occasion and contribute their quota in curbing corruption in Nigeria by displaying integrity in their sphere of influence.

“Three ways you can safely blow the whistle are open whistleblowing or reporting, confidential whistleblowing, and blowing the whistle in anonymous means.”

Uzor Amadi stressed that the citizens lack enough information about whistleblowing and blamed the inability of citizens to report corruption on eroding values of citizens and the influence of western culture.

“As Nigerians, we have our inbuilt system to fight corruption before now and I think that one of the reasons why whistleblowing is not strong enough now is that the values we have in our cultural settings are no longer being pushed in our metropolitan settings and it’s our fault, we westernize ourselves and loose our own cultures.

“So, we take what the white man has given us, we take what technology brings to us and we do not adopt it to our own living styles,” Amadi lamented.

He hailed the recently launched corruption reporting App by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying it will be very helpful in getting more Nigerians on board in exposing corruption anonymously.

Amadi also called for the speedy passage of the whistleblowing bill into law, noting that it will provide the major ingredient needed to strengthen whistleblowing and the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria.

Earlier on, an automobile mechanic, Jelili Hassan revealed his intolerance for corruption or any form of fraud when dealing with his clients and emphasized his readiness to even report any of his clients found to be involved in corrupt acts to the police.

On her part, Abuja-based businesswoman, Faith Obakoya also disclosed her willingness to discreetly report her colleagues who are involved in the cheating of customers to the market authorities.

Obakoya revealed that openly exposing or reporting a neighbor or colleague found cheating customers in the market will be difficult, but maintained she will do otherwise if her neighbor’s corrupt act threatens public health and safety.

She said the best way to encourage market women to report corruption when they see one is to ensure the authorities at the market prioritize the confidentiality of the identities of those who report to them.
However, almost all the callers into the live radio program expressed their fears of exposure and identified the lack of adequate legal protection as a disincentive to reporting corruption in Nigeria.

The Radio Town Hall meeting Series is a collaborative effort between AFRICMIL and PRIMORG, aimed at increasing citizen’s active participation and involvement, and encouraging the government to institutionalize the whistle-blowing policy.

The project is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

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