President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to protect whistleblowers in Nigeria by signing an Executive order on the whistleblower policy.
The call was made Wednesday by a senior lecturer and Head of Department, Public and International Law at Baze University, Dr. Sam Amadi, during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
Amadi’s call came on the heels of an outcry by Nigerians who are persecuted for the revealing corrupt act in the public service.
It will be recalled that the Whistleblower Policy was launched in 2016, by the Buhari’s administration, with the aim of encouraging people to voluntarily disclose information about fraud, bribery, looted government funds, financial misconduct, government assets, and any other form of corruption or theft.
During the program, a whistleblower Joseph Ameh who lost his job after revealing a corrupt act at the College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Delta State, lamented that his life has been under threat and his means of livelihood taken away for exposing corruption in the institution.
Ameh, who spoke on phone from his base in Delta State, said the school authorities turned against him after he reported unsafe practices in the construction of structures in the school to the Architect Council of Nigeria and frauds to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He added that in a bid to frustrate him, the institution refused to pay him three months’ salary in lieu which is statutory for a dismissed staff. “As a staff whose appointment was terminated, there are conditions which include three months’ salary in lieu, this was confiscated to ensure that I will be forced to hardship.”
Against the institution’s position, Ameh denied any wrongdoing prior to his dismissal, saying “I didn’t violate any lay down rules in the institution. Everything coming attempts to build up a case that led to my dismissal. While the ICPC was still around, one of the relatives of the Provost walked up to me and told me that I must be dismissed.
Reacting to the persecution whistleblowers are facing, Amadi faulted the foundation of the policy, stressing that the whistleblower policy is not a law, hence should have come as an executive order from the President.
“The policy should be at the level of the President. The President has the power to say all executive branches, whenever there is a whistleblower this is what you should do. It becomes a policy at the level of Executive Order.
Proffering solution to the persecution of whistleblowers, Amadi had these to say: “The first solution is to sign the bill. Secondly, the President should issue an Executive Order mandating all Ministers, anti-graft agencies, and Police to protect whistleblowers and in this Order set up procedures and processes for whistleblowers so that when someone blows the whistle and he will be secured.
“You can’t talk about whistleblowing without physical protection. You also have to guarantee them their job even if they’ve committed an offense, they shouldn’t be removed based on that premise,” he stated.
On his part, Igho Akeregha who is President of Civil Liberties Organisation and the Abuja Bureau Chief of Guardian Newspapers sympathized with the situation Ameh Joseph and his likes found themselves, while urging President Buhari and the National Assembly to institutionalize whistleblower policy to strengthen the nation’s fight against corruption.
PRIMORG also vowed to continue doing its best in drawing the needed attention of relevant authorities for urgent action to the plight of the dismissed whistleblower and others.
The syndicated radio program is produced by PRIMORG with the support from the MACARTHUR FOUNDATION.