Nigeria confirms first payments to whistle-blowers

Elizabeth Christopher, Abuja

Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun

The Nigerian Ministry of Finance has confirmed the release of N375.8m to the first batch of 20 providers of information under the Whistleblower Policy.

The payment, of various amounts totaling N375,875,000, relate to the recovery of N11,635,000,000 .

The Minister for Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun  stated: “This payment, which is the first under the  Whistleblower Policy, underscores the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in meeting obligations to information providers under the Whistleblower Policy.  The policy is an essential tool  in the fight against corruption.”

She said recent amendments to the Whistleblower Policy which includes the introduction of a formal legal agreement between information providers and the Federal Government, which is executed by the Minister of Justice (Attorney-General of the Federation).

She added that procedures have also been introduced to ensure the protection of the identity of information providers during the payment process.

The Minister explained that all payments are taxable and are only made upon confirmation of the final recovery of assets as confirmed by the Attorney-General of the Federation as being free of legal disputes or litigation.

The Minister also gave details of the Whistleblower Unit (WBU),  a multi-agency team, which is resident in Ministry of Finance Headquarters.

It is staffed by people from  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force and Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), among others.

“The Whistleblower Unit is the first line of response to whistleblower information, where initial review is undertaken before cases are forwarded to the relevant investigative agencies,” Mrs. Adeosun said.

Following the approval of the Whistleblowers Policy by the Federal Executive Council and its launch by the Minister of Finance in December 2016, the WBU received 2, 150 communications and 337 tips through its dedicated channels from many patriotic Nigerians, which led to the recovery of substantial assets that were illegally acquired by various individuals.

The primary purpose of the Policy is to support the fight against financial crimes and corruption, promote  accountability and enhance transparency in the management of public finances.

Mrs. Adeosun gave the assurance that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would continue to encourage all Nigerians with information on misconduct, violation or improper activity, which can impact negatively on the country, to report it to the appropriate authorities.