By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—To effectively wage and win the ongoing war against corruption in Nigeria, the Federal Government has introduced a whistle-blowing policy.
The programme, which was articulated by the Ministry of Finance, enables Nigerians and patriotic individuals to report criminal activities, especially looted funds, to the authorities, using a secure online portal which would also conceal the identity of the blower.
The whislle-blower is also expected to submit documentary evidence on the portal and provide specific and factual information, such as what occurred, amount involved, who was involved and dates of occurrence on the portal.
The programme also guarantees full confidentiality to the blower’s identity within the limitations of the law.
The government also placed five percent of the looted funds as rewards to the blower when the information given was proved to be authentic and credible.
Announcing the development, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who briefed State House correspondents in the company of Ministers of Information, Power and Works and Housing at the end of yesterday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the FEC had approved the programme.
She, however, said the programme was subject to ratification by the National Assembly.
A script read by the Minister listed some examples of information that could be submitted to include mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets, such as properties and vehicles; financial malpractice or fraud; collecting / soliciting bribes; corruption; diversion of revenues; unapproved payments; splitting of contracts; procurement fraud; kickbacks and over-invoicing.
It, however, stated that personal matters concerning private contracts or agreements were not needed.
Adeosun said: “It is a programme designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on the Nigerian people and government to report it.
“If you whistleblow in public-spirit and in good faith, you will be protected. If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint.
‘’If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.
“If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistleblower may be entitled to between 2.5% (minimum) and 5.0% (maximum) of the total amount recovered.”
The minister also stated that there would be protection from false or malicious claims.
She said: “A first level review will always be carried out to determine credibility and sufficiency of information received.
‘’If you report false or misleading information, it will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, said FEC gave approvals for emergency repair works on Tambuwawa bridge in Kano, adding that work would also commence on Second Niger Bridge.
“We presented from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, two memoranda, one was first for emergency repair works of Tambuwawa bridge, between Kaduna and Kano, situated largely in Kano.
‘’Council considered and approved the emergency repair of the bridge suffering from scrap and erosion. The parts were exposed as a result of some mining activities there. We got approval for that by council.
“The second memo related to the continuation of work on the Second Niger Bridge which is the bridge that is meant to give relief to the existing Niger Bridge and improve connectivity between the West and the East.
‘’The project was conceived first as a PPP with government financing but the investors had not brought themselves.
‘’Negotiations had not been concluded and it is important to continue to work there. Works had been executed there.”