Re: ‘The case for whistle blowers’
SIR: Our attention has been drawn to The Guardian editorial of Monday, January 5, 2015 entitled “The case for whistleblowers” in which our Institute’s idea of setting up a N50 million Whistleblower Protection Fund was applauded.
We thank the newspaper’s Editorial Board for its recognition of this laudable project, and hereby seize this opportunity to explain the existing steps and legal structures to ensure internal cleansing among our members to improve adherence to ethics of the profession.
To set the records straight, we make bold to disclose that there are procedures adopted by the Institute when cases of professional misconduct are alleged against any member. These were made pursuant to Section 11(3) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria Act (hereinafter referred to as “The Act”) which created the Accountants’ Investigating Panel. It has the duty of:
• Conducting a preliminary investigation into any case where it is alleged that a member has misbehaved in his/her capacity as an accountant, or should for any other reason be the subject of proceedings before the Tribunal; and
• Deciding whether the case should be referred to the Tribunal or concluded. The processes adopted by the Investigating Panel are as follows:
• Where a complaint is received by the Institute alleging a case of professional Misconduct against a member of the Institute, such complaint shall be referred to the Investigating Panel for necessary action.
• Where there is a media report alleging professional misconduct on the part of a member, the Institute shall request for a formal complaint from the person or body making the allegation by way of a sworn affidavit.
• The Panel at the conclusion of the case has the duty of referring the matter to the Tribunal if it finds the case referable or if need be adopt alternative dispute resolution, or conclude the case if it lacks merit.
Processes adopted at the disciplinary tribunal
The Accountants’ Disciplinary Tribunal was created by Section 11(1) of the Act and it is charged with the duty of considering and determining any case referred to it by the Panel and any other case of which the Tribunal has cognizance of under the Act. The activities of the Tribunal ensure strict compliance with the Professional Code of Conduct and Guide for members as issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the International Federation of Accountants.
The Tribunal is independent of Council as it is recognized under Section 316 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a domestic Tribunal known to Law. An appeal against the decision of the Tribunal, properly brought, shall operate as a stay against the judgment of the Tribunal pending the outcome of the decision of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on further appeal thereto.
It is, therefore, pertinent to say that our members found guilty of unethical behaviour or professional misconduct are not allowed to go scot-free. Adequate sanctions are imposed to serve as deterrence to others. The sanction includes reprimand, suspension or withdrawal of certificate as the case may be.
• Bunmi Owolabi (Mrs.),
For: Registrar/Chief Executive
Snr. Manager, Corporate Communication and Marketing.