Byu Ugo Aliogo, KehindeÂ Lawal andÂ Amaka Akpa
Human Rights Activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has stated that the whistle blowing policy of President Muhammadu Buhari was created out of frustration and the need to curb the alarming rate of corruption in Nigeria.
He disclosed this yesterday in Lagos at a public lecture organised by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) with the theme: â€˜Whistle-blowing Policy: Issues, Benefits, and Challenges to curtail financial crimes and misappropriation of assets both in the private and public sectors of the nation.â€™
Falana said that the policy was an invitation to citizens to participate in the anti-corruption policy of government and help the government achieve the sole purpose of curbing the high rate of corruption in the country. â€œThe corruption rate in the country is high and if nothing is done to address it now, then it will consume the development and growth of the country. Buhari created the policy to curb the menace of high corruption cases in the country and the citizens must work together with the government,â€ he said.
He maintained that the constitutional rights of a citizen is to impart information, knowledge and ideas as the constitution provides for the protection of the citizenâ€™s right to freedom of expression.
Falana explained that any individual who blows the whistle is protected by the constitution, stating that section 39 of the constitution guarantees freedom of expression which he noted includes freedom to impact knowledge, information and ideas on people. â€œSection 24 of the constitution stipulates that every citizen is legally bound to assist law enforcement agencies to expose crime in the society to promote law and order in the society.â€
The Human Rights Activist further stated that some cases of whistle blowing had ended badly for the persons involved, noting that when the whistle of the murder of the former Attorney-General of Nigeria late Bola Ige was blown, both the blower, and the lawyer Festus Keyamo were arrested and charged to court, â€œas at the time of their release, the whistle-blower was heard singing a different tune.â€
Also speaking at the lecture, Mr. Festus Keyamo said the future of the country would be brighter if these issues were considered, adopted and vigorously implemented.
He added that the scope of the policy, if implemented, should be expanded to cover the private sector, adding that the activities in the sector, especially banking was alarming.
He said that the whistle blowing policy must be carefully implemented, not to protect actual criminals and accomplices, and should separate accomplices from whistleblowers.
Earlier in his remarks, the President of ISCAN, Mr. Samuel Kolawole said whistle blowing was a potent anti-corruption instrument as the recent discoveries of N23.2 million and other amounts in foreign currencies underlined the efficacy of whistleblowing as an agent of positive change.
He also stated that the institute has always underscored the significance of whistle blowing as a veritable mechanism both in the public and private sectors.
He added: â€œWe believe in its usefulness and have always promoted its deployment not only because of its potential as a safeguard against corruption but also as an instrument for promoting accountability, transparency and good governance.â€