At a time Nigeria has received yet a five star rating among the committee of nations in the world for corruption and corrupt practices, the federal government of Nigeria under the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency through the ministry of finance made a giant stride with the introduction of the whistleblower policy which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in December 2016.
The policy among others provides that if the government is able to recover stolen funds or concealed assets through information provided by a whistle-blower, then he/she may be entitled to between 2.5%-5.0% of amount recovered.
The Whistleblower in this case according to the Policy is a person who voluntarily discloses to the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur with specific concerns which are in the public interest.
The approval of this policy by the FEC which later received the endorsement of the National Assembly has helped the government in no small means to recover stolen funds and properties from Nigerians found culpable of such.
The policy made its biggest and most controversial recovery in April 2017 when the sum of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 were found in flat 7B of the luxurious Osborne Towers at 16, Osborne road in Ikoyi Lagos by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) acting on a tip-off by a whistleblower.
The discovery of the funds which led to the unceremonious exit of the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ambassador Ayo Oke was the talk of the town and beyond the shores of the country for months till it got relegated from our collective consciousness by fresh scandals. On November 9, 2017, in Vienna, Austria, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu stated that the “young man who blew the whistle on the massive stash of money recovered from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, is now a millionaire”.
As expected, the social media went into frenzy with many calculating how much the “young man” is worth after the payment not until the former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Professor Chidi Odinkalu in a series of tweets dispelled the statement made by the anti-corruption czar as an outright lie.
Prof. Odinkalu stated that the whistleblower has been ostracised and detained by several security agencies in the country. The occurrence of the next 24hrs after he made that statement shows Nigeria has scored another own goal in its anti-corruption drive.
The lawyer to the whistleblower corroborated the statement credited to Professor Odinkalu.
In an attempt to save face, the EFCC released two statements in a spate of ten hours. The first statement claimed the whistleblower is undergoing “counselling”, a position, that can only be explained by Wilson Uwujaren, the anti-corruption agency’s spokesperson. After this failed, the commission in a second statement said it was not in the position to pay the whistleblower.
The summary is this. The Finance Ministry is yet to pay the whistleblower seven months after the discovery of the Ikoyi. This occurrence is nothing but a mockery of the whistleblower policy.