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LIRS unveils whistleblowing mechanism to check official misconduct

By Geoff Iyatse
08 August 2022   |   2:38 am
Lagos State Government has, through the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), unveiled a whistleblowing mechanism with a promise to extend it to other ministries, departments and agencies.

Ayodele Subair. Executive chairman, LIRS

Lagos State Government has, through the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), unveiled a whistleblowing mechanism with a promise to extend it to other ministries, departments and agencies.

The programme is hosted on Deloitte Tip-offs Anonymous, which enables users to report misconduct and other unethical behaviours by public officials from any part of the world.

Users could use any of the major Nigerian languages on the multiple-reporting channel, which has a downloadable mobile app. The mobile format guarantees complete confidentiality as it does not require users’ identities before use. The channel is also accessible through its dedicated website.

The Commissioner of Finance, during the launch in Lagos last week, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, said LIRS was chosen to lead the pilot phase of the initiative owing to its centrality to the state’s economy. He noted that it would be extended to other MDAs of the state government.

According to the commission, the programme would redefine the government’s engagement with Lagos residents, while improving public service delivery. He assured Lagosians that the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was fully committed to the success of the project.

Olowo said the government has taken transparency of the scheme seriously, hence it secured the service of Deloitte to roll out the whistleblowing programme. He said there would be a yearly review of the scheme with full disclosure of the number of reported cases, the number of cases investigated and the level of success recorded.

Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Egube, said active citizens’ participation in governance through the whistleblower initiative would open up the state to accountability and transparency. He added that there was a strong positive correlation between development and citizens’ participation in governance as seen in countries like the United States and South Korea.

“Citizens’ improved participation through channels like this would stimulate trust and lead to all-around growth and development,” the commissioner stressed.

The Executive Chairman of LIRS, Ayodele Subair, described the scheme as a demonstration of the government’s commitment to high ethical standards in all its business processes.

“The facility is designed to ensure that concerns about wrongdoing or malpractice within the agency can be raised by any stakeholder without fear of victimisation, subsequent discrimination, disadvantage or dismissal. This facility does not provide the avenue to report but also ensures the credibility of reports through investigation and feedback to the whistleblower and ensures protection for such a whistleblower from possible reprisals or victimisation for all disclosures made in good faith.

“The whistle-blowing framework is a two-way affair aiming to expose LIRS staff involved with misconduct, employees of business entities who want to report employers who circumvent tax laws (such deduction of PAYE and non-remittance, exploitation of illegal tax evasion/avoidance schemes) or even members of the public who want to raise an alarm on persons or entities who willfully commit financial crimes leading to revenue loss for the state,” Subair said.

Noting that all reports would be treated with utmost seriousness, he said that complaints should be filed in good faith as “allegations made frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain would attract appropriate sanctions”.