lAs stakeholders call for caution
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief, Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon & Charles Kumolu
ABUJA— The whistleblower whose tips led to the recovery of the Osborn Villa loot will be paid this month, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has assured.
Her position was contained in a statement by her Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde, yesterday, following inquiries by Vanguard.
She said the payment due to the whistleblower was being processed and would be paid in the next batch, which, according to her, will be effected within this month.
The minister explained that the process for payment of reward to whistleblowers included being sure that such funds had no legal encumbrances, a request from the agency that recovered the funds, as well as steps to identify and protect the whistleblower.
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been drawn to media reports surrounding the payment to a whistleblower, who provided the tips that led to the recovery of funds stashed away in a property in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
“The minister wishes to state unequivocally that the Federal Government has not withheld any fund due to any whistleblower. The ministry has in place detailed procedures for processing payments due under the Whistleblower Policy. The procedures were designed to prevent abuse and legal disputes and to ensure protection of the information providers.
“These procedures include an application by the agency who recovered the funds, including evidence of the recovery, confirmation that there are no pending legal issues on the recovery, verification of the identity of the information provider, calculation of the amount payable and computation of relevant taxes.
“It must be stated also that payments are made in monthly batches to ensure control and to protect the identity of information providers. To date, over 20 of such persons have been paid. From available records, the payment due on Ikoyi is among those being processed in the November batch, which will be released within the current month.
“The minister reiterates that the Whistleblowing Policy of the Federal Government remains one of the current administration’s successful initiatives and that the government is fully committed to ensuring that all those who responded to the policy and partnered with government in the recovery effort are paid in full and most importantly have their identity protected.”
It’s not EFCC’s duty to pay whistleblower —Sagay
Meanwhile, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, has backed Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on its supervision of the whistleblower who helped in the recovery of the N13 billion Osborne Road, Ikoyi cash haul.
Sagay, who said it was the duty of the Federal Ministry of Finance and not that of the EFCC to pay the whistleblower was backed in his assertion by Comrade Debo Adeniran, Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL; Second vice-president of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Monday Ubani and Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mummuni.
Responding to the controversy, yesterday, Sagay, who insisted that it was not the duty of the EFCC to pay rewards for whistle-blowing, said: “I am directly involved in that but the little I know, it is not the EFCC but Ministry of Finance that handles the reward for the whistleblowers.
“Probably what they (EFCC) seemed concerned about is the capacity of the whistle-blower to handle such amount of money without it backfiring. I believe they (EFCC) want to counsel the whistle -blower and ensure he has professionals who will help handle the money. I think that is what is behind it and not a blunt refusal by the EFCC to pay.”
Stakeholders call for caution
On his part, Comrade Debo Adeniran of CACOL said yesterday: “We suspect that the so-called whistleblower might be an agent of those corrupt elements who want to embarrass the government and EFCC in particular. What is done is that whistleblowers are not supposed to expose themselves to danger in the hands of those they blew the whistle against. Most whistleblowers do it discretely.”
Calling for expeditious conclusion of the issue, Mr. Mumuni, said: “If, indeed, the man has not been paid, he should be paid. It is so important that if the government makes policy, that government should be seen to be following that because if not, it would not inspire confidence. So, I think he should be paid if his claims are verifiable.”
Also speaking, Second Vice President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Monday Ubani said: ‘’The Federal Government, headed by President Buhari, should save this government undue embarrassment by ensuring that the man is paid between tomorrow and Sunday. ”
“The man acted by giving vital information in accordance with the whistle-blower policy, why should the government be waiting for the man to go to the press before paying him his money?
Bemoaning the controversy, MrBaka Zakka, a public affairs analyst and a member of the good governance advocacy group, Concerned Citizens of Nigeria, said: “The whole thing looks confusing. If somebody of Magu’s status says the person has been paid, ordinarily I am likely to believe him.
“The whole thing is a bit confusing, and because I don’t know the identity of the whistle-blower, and because I don’t know his identity, it is difficult to confirm the truth, so it is confusing.”