‘Delayed passage of whistleblower bill threatens anti-graft war’
Unless the whistleblower protection bill is passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President, the fight against corruption may be threatened due to fear of victimisation, lawyers say.
A professor of law, Taiwo Osipitan (SAN), said it is imperative to get the law passed to shield those who provide information from victimisation and harassment.
He said: “There are provisions in the whistleblower bill, which is before the National Assembly and they are designed to protect people who give vital information. I believe that the earlier we pass the bill, the better so that those who have information will be able to give out those information with the assurance that they have the backing and protection of the law.”
Also, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN) believes that non-passage of the whistle-blower bill is a serious blow to the fight against corruption in Nigeria. According to him, events have shown that whistle-blowing has helped a lot in recovering a lot of stolen money.
Chairman of the presidential advisory committee against corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said that the non-passage of the whistle-blower bill would affect the war against corruption negatively but not devastatingly.
“I don’t think it would be devastating because at the interim, the executive arm of government can use its own initiative to introduce some measures of protection. So, it doesn’t have to be total devastation because the National Assembly has not passed the bill. So, I implore the executive to use its initiative to introduce some protective measures pending the passage of the bill,” he said.
However, Norrison Quakers (SAN) said there were enough protective laws. The whistleblower bill, he said, is being enacted for the purpose of rewarding informants.
His words: “In terms of protection of informants, we already have enough laws in place addressing the issue. We have what is called witness protection programme, which is a system that shields a witness who will be testifying against a suspect from being harassed, intimidated or even being murdered.”
Also, former Chairman of Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Yinka Farounbi, said in civilised climes, whistleblowers have successfully been used to reduce corruption and achieved growth. Ours, he said, ought not to be an exception but for the so-called “Nigeria factor.”
Monday Ubani, 2nd vice president of the NBA, said the whistle-blower policy deserves a legal enactment for the policy to be taken serious. Its present form without legal backing, he said, is very dangerous for any of the persons that intend to give out information against crime or corruption.
Also, Johnson Esezoobo said the whistleblower policy initiated by the current administration is a welcomed development in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.