Nigeria senate at plenary Photo: NAN

By Oladipupo Mojeed

In a bid to support the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate has passed a bill sponsored by late Senator Isiaka Adeleke.

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Ths bill is to protect whistleblowers and witnesses directly involved in the prosecution of certain criminal cases.

The bill, titled Witness Protection Programme (Establishment etc), SB 157, was passed on Thursday, following a report submitted by the committee on human rights, legal matters and Judiciary chaired by Senator David Umaru.

When the bill scaled the second reading in October 2016, the Senate had resolved that it be merged with a similar proposal to protect persons making disclosures for public interest and other forms reappraisal, sponsored by Senator Abiodun Olujimi,

When the bill was being considered for second reading last year, Adeleke had said a law protecting witnesses was usually required in the prosecution of organised crimes like terrorism.

The deceased senator noted that in such trials,  the witnesses would be allowed to wear masks, bear pseudo names and receive protection from authorities.

Cardinal bill

On her part,  Olujimi referred to the bill as a cardinal bill in the fight against corruption.

She said fighting corruption hung on effective protection of whistleblowers.

She mentioned three instances at the Ministry of Aviation, Women Development Centre and the Police Service Commission where whistleblowers were fired.

In his remark after the bill was passed, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, thanked his colleagues for the bill, which he said, was in honour of the deceased Adeleke.

The bill must also be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the president to be law.