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FG recovers N594.09b in three years from whistleblowing

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
07 March 2020   |   3:19 am
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, has revealed that the Federal Government recovered N594.09 billion in less than three years of the introduction of the whistleblowing policy.

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, has revealed that the Federal Government recovered N594.09 billion in less than three years of the introduction of the whistleblowing policy. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that the tempo of reporting under the whistleblowing policy has dropped significantly probably because people were being cautious because of the condition that they must be 100 per cent sure of the information they give the government as it has its image to protect.

The government also said that delays in getting compensation, as whistleblowers could not get compensated until the court rules for final forfeiture of the money in question, could be responsible for the development.

According to the Assistant Director, Special Investigation and Assignment, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), Mr Johnson Oludare, the policy seems to be nose-diving not because the Federal Ministry of Finance has stopped working but because Nigerians have not been reporting. 

Speaking at a two-day roundtable in Abuja organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), PACAC and the MacArthur Foundation with the theme, ‘Entrenching Whistleblowing in Regulatory and Revenue-Generating Agencies’, Sagay however disclosed that the policy recorded 791 cases of infractions from ‘actionable tips’ under the same period.

He observed that the policy has been very successful not only in terms of assets recovered but also by revelations of various scams used by fraudulent Nigerians in bleeding the country’s purse.

According to him, “as at November 2019, less than three years after the introduction of the policy, the Federal Government had recovered N594.09 billion from the implementation of the policy.” 

He added: “The success of the policy had led to calls from Nigerians abroad that the Federal Government should export the initiative to known countries where looted funds are usually laundered. Some Nigerians living abroad, particularly in the U.S., have suggested that the whistleblowing policy should be operated abroad in order to expose Nigerians who loot our funds, and then launder them abroad by buying expensive properties in the name of their relatives living or studying abroad.

“According to those pushing this proposal, some former governors transferred public funds abroad and used them to purchase expensive and luxurious properties in the names of their relations residing in the foreign country concerned. The idea is that our government should with the appropriate tip off contact the FBI in the U.S. to investigate such relations regarding their source of funds for the properties in their names.”

Earlier, the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Dr. Chido Onumah, noted that though the whistleblowing mechanism exists in some government agencies, many others did not have such framework in place.

Onuma stated that in some cases, the policy was not more than the paper on which it is written, devoid of the needed impetus He explained that the centre as part of its good governance initiative, in early 2017, launched the Corruption Anonymous (CORA) project with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Onuma stressed that the project is aimed at creating awareness about whistleblowing and making Nigerians see the need to adopt whistleblowing as a tool for reducing corruption and other forms of malfeasance in the country, build public confidence in the whistleblowing policy of the Federal Government and advocate for the protection of whistleblowers.

“Despite its challenges, mainly bordering on lack of proper legal and institutional framework, the whistleblowing policy has achieved considerable success, manifested in the recovery of huge amounts of looted public funds in local and foreign currencies, as well as other mouth-watering state assets,” he said.

Also speaking, the Deputy Director, MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Dayo Olaide, said Nigeria was not winning the anti-corruption war because the needed and expected actions from government were lacking.

According to him, the action of the Federal Government was so important that the absence of it or the lack of trust by the citizenry would not bring the desired positive results.

He said: “The anti-corruption war is not that of President Muhammadu Buhari or of the government alone. All citizens must be part of it so the society can be free of corruption and the impact of good governance felt by all.”