Whistle Blowers Will Be Protected – FG

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

The federal government has promised to look into cases of Nigerians who got punished for blowing the whistle and exposing corruption in their various places of work.

This follows the controversy generated by the recent sack of a whistle-blower by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Recall that an assistant director in that ministry, Ntia Thompson,  was sacked for exposing an alleged $229,000 fraud among top officials of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, DTCA.

Civil society groups as well as majority of Nigerians have described the development as a set back to the ongoing anti-corruption campaign of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

But Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in a statement on Sunday, reiterated that the government will always not only reward whistle-blowers, but will also ensure that they were protected against any sort of victimization.

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Mohammed said:“For those who may have suffered any backlash as a result of the information they provide, their cases will be reviewed and appropriate mitigating actions taken,”the statement read.

He said that it was necessary that government reassures whistle-blowers of their security and safety following presentations made to the Presidential Asset Recovery Committee by concerned citizens and groups on the matter.

“Whistle-blowers have nothing to fear because the committee has put in place the necessary measures to safeguard those who give useful information, the Minister stated.

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“As a matter of fact, whistle-blowers have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”

Mohammed also threw more light on the formula for rewarding anyone who exposes cases of fraud and such monies were successfully returned to government’s coffers.

He said:“If a whistle-blower provides information leading to the recovery of 10 billion naira, he or she will receive 5% of the first 1 billion naira, 4% of the next 4 billion naira and 2.5% of the remaining 5 billion naira.”

This means in essence that a whistle blower would get N335 million for every N10 billion fraud exposed.

Mohammed further stated:“What we have done by making this information public is to reassure potential whistle-blowers that the plan to reward is real.

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“We are not just saying we will pay all whistle-blowers, but we are letting them know in advance what they are entitled to, once the information they provide leads to the recovery of looted funds.”

Recall that a civil society group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had demanded that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, recalled the sack whistle-blower, Thompson.

“Impunity for reprisals against Mr Thompson would send a message to all potential whistle-blowers that your ministry lacks the commitment to their protection,” SERAP’s deputy director, Timothy Adewale, had said.