By Okeowo Oladapo Agency Report
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a non-governmental organisation, based in Lagos has stated its support for the Federal Ministry of Finance’s (FMF) whistleblowing programme.
This statement was made by Mr Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of the organisation, in an exclusive with the News Agency of Nigeria.
“Since 2002, non-governmental organisations, including MRA have advocated the adoption of a comprehensive Whistle-blower Protection Act.
“A bill to this effect was submitted to the National Assembly in 2002 under the aegis of the Zero Corruption Coalition.
“Besides the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Malam Nuhu Ribadu, showed interest in it.
“The bill received no support from the executive and in spite of civil society advocacy efforts and the attitude of the legislators towards the bill, it died in the National Assembly.
“We are pleased that the Buhari’s administration is now taking the initiative on the issue of the protection of whistle-blowers.
“We propose that the administration ensure the passage of the bill as soon as possible because its provisions are consistent with international best practice and standards’’, he said.
He said the organisation was ready to support the National Assembly to actualise the vision of the Buhari administration to nip corruption in the bud.
Ojo said the whistle-blower protection framework was “critically important for transforming the Nigerian society and reversing decades of official corruption and other wrongdoing’’.
He pointed out as controversial but necessary, the paying of the whistle-blower between 2.5 and 5 per cent of the recovered amount. Citing countries like South Korea where the reward gets as high as 20 per cent.
Going on, he insisted that the success of the programme is very dependent on the assurance of safety of the whistle-blower.
Ojo cited South Korea as an example of countries where the “Anti-Corruption Act allows whistle-blowers who have reported cases of corruption to get up to 20 per cent of the total amount of fraud proceeds recovered.
He said some countries even allowed up to 30 per cent funds to the whistle-blowers, adding that such an initiative would succeed in Nigeria.
The FMF programme is aimed at fighting corrupt practices while also rewarding those who report corrupt acts. It is expected to serve as a stop-gap until a bill on the same matter, presently before the National Assembly, is passed into law.