Whistleblower policy: ICPC witch-hunts no one – Chairman

By Christian Njoku
 The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) has said that the anti-graft agency does not witch-hunt any Nigerian.
This was disclosed by Bolaji Owasanoye SAN, Chairman of ICPC, during a Whistleblowing and Whistleblower Protection town-hall meeting, organised by the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, (AFRICMIL) in Calabar.
Represented by Mr Kalu Ugbo, Acting Resident Commissioner of the  commission in Cross River, Owasanoye said the agency was highly independent and carried out its responsibilities according to the law.
He, however, noted that sometimes, the agency was challenged because the whistleblower policy was not yet a law but just a policy even though it had aspects that dealt with the protection of  whistleblowers.
“The whistleblower policy is yet to be a law in Nigeria but it has aspects that covers the protection of a whistleblower because it is a risky undertaking that can put someone’s life or family at stake.
“Another challenge for ICPC is that the act that established the commission only empowers it to investigate and prosecute wrong-doings when there is a petition or someone blows the whistle.
“We are trying to amend the act so that when ICPC sees a wrong-doing, it can go against the perpetrator, rather than wait until petitions are forwarded,” he said
Similarly, Mr Bawa Saidu, Commander, Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), noted that 90 per cent of their prosecution and conviction was due to whistleblowing.
Saidu, who said whistle blowing was very essential in the fight against corruption, noted that the protection of the whistleblower must be strengthened to encourage more whistleblowers to support the commission.
He said the anti-graft agency had an internal mechanism that ensured the safety of a whistleblower and monitored the activities of its operatives to ensure high standards at all times.
On his part, the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Dr. Chido Onumah said his organisation had taken the whistleblower project to the six geopolitical zones of the country to sensitise the people to the need to demand accountability and challenge wrong-doings.
Onumah said they were aware of the reality that among other incentives for whistleblowing, the most crucial was protection.
“There is no way people will be motivated to engage in whistleblowing if they know they will not be protected from victimisation for reporting wrongdoings; not even the promise of reward is strong enough motivation to blow the whistle,” he said.
He said although the whistleblowing and whistleblower protection draft bill by AFRICMIL and other stakeholders were approved by the Federal Executive Council in December 2022, regrettably, it wasn’t passed into law before that tenure elapsed.
He added that they were working with partners and stakeholders in the public sector to ensure that the bill was passed into law soon. (NAN)
PHOTO: L-R: Dr. Chido Onumah, Coordinator AFRICMIL and Mr Kalu Ugbo, Acting Resident Commissioner ICPC in Cross River, during a town hall meeting on the protection of whistleblowers in Nigeria