Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has urged the National Assembly to urgently pass the Whistle-blowing Policy Bill to tackle corruption and protect whistleblowers.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated this on Thursday in Lagos, while serving as the first speaker at the 2018 public lecture of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria.
The theme of the lecture was entitled: ‘Whistle Blowing Policy: Issues, Benefits and Challenges’.
Falana said that the policy was an invitation to citizens to participate in the anti-corruption policy of the government.
According to him, the constitutional right of a citizen is to impart information, knowledge and ideas as the Constitution provides for the protection of the citizen’s right to freedom of expression.
“Anybody who tells the people in authority about illegal practices is protected by the Constitution. Section 39 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and that includes freedom to impart knowledge, information and ideas to people.
“Section 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,” he said.
The human rights lawyer had earlier said that he and several other lawyers, including Mr. Festus Keyamo and Mr. Monday Ubani, who were speakers at the ICSAN lecture, were ready to protect genuine whistle-blowers in the country.
“We will protect any Nigerian who is ready to give the people in authority useful information about looted funds and other corrupt practices, without collecting a dime,” he said.
Meanwhile, Falana called on Nigerians to elect technocrats and professionals into the National Assembly during 2019 general elections, “and not core politicians.”
He said that the current National Assembly members had not made any impact because “they are mostly professional politicians who will not pass any bill into law if it would not serve their personal interests; even if such could be of immense benefit to the country.”
He added, “It takes a professional to appreciate the value a good bill, when passed into law, will have on the economy and on the common person.”
Another speaker at the ICSAN public lecture and a consultant on management and financial issues, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, recommended that a legal framework should be created to solve the challenges of rewarding and protecting whistle-blowers.
“A rate chart for reward should be developed and comprehensive legal protection for the whistle-blower must be provided,” he said.
Adedipe said research and advocacy on whistle-blowing had blossomed, especially in countries where the policy had been formalised and proven successful in curbing greed that motivates financial crimes and other forms of errant behaviours.
He said reports from Transparency International revealed that Nigeria’s whistle-blowing scorecard had 8,373 enquiries, while 1,231 tips had been received.