Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government wednesday confirmed that it had released N375,875,000 to the first batch of 20 providers of information under the Whistleblower Policy, culminating in the recovery of N11,635,000,000.
Of the N375.8 million, the 20 whistleblowers were paid various amounts, the government stated.
Under the Whistleblower Policy, anyone who provides information leading to the recovery of public funds is entitled to between three and five per cent of the recovered amount.
The Ministry of Finance, in a statement quoted the minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun as saying: â€œThis 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. The policy is an essential tool in the fight against corruption.â€
The statement issued by the Director (Information) in the ministry, Mr. Salisu Na â€˜Inna Dambatta, said Adeosun further disclosed the recent amendments to the Whistleblower Policy, including the introduction of a formal legal agreement between information providers and the federal government, which is executed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Procedures have also been introduced to ensure the protection of the identity of information providers during the payment process, she added.
The minister explained that all payments are taxable and are only made upon confirmation of the final recovery of the assets and confirmed by the AGF as being free of legal disputes or litigation.
The minister also provided details of the Whistleblower Unit (WBU), a multi-agency team, which is resident in the Ministry of Finance.
Adeosun added that the unit is staffed by people seconded from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police Force and Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), among others.
â€œThe WBU is the first line of response to whistleblower information, where the initial review is undertaken before cases are forwarded to the relevant investigative agencies,â€ Adeosun added.
The finance ministry recently reported that the WBU had received 2,150 communications and 337 tips through its dedicated channels from many patriotic Nigerians, leading 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.
Adeosun said the federal government would continue to encourage all Nigerians with information on misconduct, violation or improper activity that can impact negatively on the country to report same to the appropriate authorities.