Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has cleared the air on the controversy surrounding the compensation to the whistleblower who blew the lid leading to the eventual recovery of $43,449,947, Â£27,800 and N23,218,000 from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, last April.
Adeosun, in a statement Sunday, said from available records, the payment due on the Ikoyi recovery was among those being processed in the November batch, which will be released within the current month.
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, last Thursday in Vienna, Austria, had remarked that the â€œyoung man who blew the whistle is now a millionaireâ€.
However, a day later, a lawyer who said he was representing the three friends who blew the whistle on the recovery from the Ikoyi apartment, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari demanding that the EFCC should immediately pay the commission due to the whistleblowers.
On the same day, the EFCC clarified that it never said that the whistle blowers had been paid as reported in the media.
The lawyer, Yakubu Galadima, also alleged that those who facilitated the recovery of the monies were three and not one as claimed by the EFCC.
Responding to the controversy via a statement issued Sunday night by her spokesman, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde, the finance minister said her attention had been drawn â€œto media reports surrounding the payment to a whistleblower, who provided the tips that led to the recovery of funds stashed away in a property in Ikoyi, Lagos Stateâ€.
She stated unequivocally that the federal government has not withheld any funds due to any whistleblower.
According to her, the ministry has in place detailed procedures for processing payments due under the Whistleblower Policy.
â€œThe procedures were designed to prevent abuse and legal disputes and to ensure protection of the information providers.
â€œThese procedures include an application by the agency which recovered the funds including evidence of the recovery, confirmation that there are no pending legal issues on the recovery, verification of the identity of the information provider, calculation of the amount payable and computation of relevant taxes.
â€œIt must be stated also that payments are made in monthly batches to ensure control and to protect the identity of information providers,â€ Adeosun said.
She disclosed that to date, over 20 of such persons had been paid.
Adeosun stressed that â€œfrom available records, the payment due on Ikoyi is among those being processed in the November batch, which will be released within the current monthâ€.
She reiterated that the Whistleblowing Policy of the federal government remains one of the current administrationâ€™s successful initiatives and the government was fully committed to ensuring that all those who responded to the policy and partner with government in the recovery efforts are paid in full and most importantly have their identities protected.
The Whistleblower Policy was introduced in December 2016 by the federal government as part of initiatives to wage the war against corruption.