By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA — The Federal Government has made good its promise to reward whistleblowers with cash, in furtherance of the policy to encourage Nigerians to report corrupt people to the authorities.
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed, yesterday, that N375,875,000 had been paid to 20 people who provided information that led to the recovery of N11.635 billion.
She said: “This payment, which is the first under the Whistleblower Policy, underscores the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in meeting obligations to information providers under the Whistleblower Policy. The policy is an essential tool in the fight against corruption.”
Adeosun said the payment was a demonstration of the current administration’s determination to encourage all Nigerians with information on misconduct, violation or improper activity which can impact negatively on Nigeria to report same to the authorities.
She further disclosed recent amendments to the Whistleblower Policy, including the introduction of a formal legal agreement between information providers and the Federal Government, which is executed by the Minister of Justice (Attorney-General of the Federation).
She added that procedures had also been introduced to ensure the protection of the identity of information providers during the payment process.
The minister explained that all payments were taxable and made only upon confirmation of the final recovery of assets as confirmed by the Attorney-General of the Federation as being free of legal disputes or litigation.
The minister also gave details of the Whistleblower Unit, WBU, a multi-agency team, which is resident in the Ministry of Finance headquarters.
It is staffed by secondees from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC; Department of State Service, DSS; Nigeria Police Force and Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA, among others.
“The Whistleblower Unit is the first line of response to whistleblower information, where initial review is undertaken before cases are forwarded to the relevant investigative agencies,” Mrs. Adeosun said.
The WBU has received 2,150 communications and 337 tips through its dedicated channels from many patriotic Nigerians, which led to the recovery of substantial assets illegally acquired by some individuals.
According to the minister, the primary purpose of the policy is to support the fight against financial crimes and corruption, promote accountability and enhance transparency in the management of public finances.