AFRICMIL condemns victimisation of whistleblowers

OrderPaperToday – The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has criticized the continued persecution of whistleblowers by agents of the state.

The organisation believes this action threatens the efficacy of the Whistleblower Policy introduced by the government to curb endemic corruption in the Nigeria.

The Coordinator of the organisation, Chido Onumah, revealed this in a press statement released on Wednesday where he stated that, “at least two whistleblowers in the public service that were unjustly sacked for exposing financial fraud and subsequently recalled are currently going through a fresh round of victimization in form of withheld salaries.”

According to Mr. Onumah, it is “most disturbing that citizens who, at the risk of their personal safety, decided to heed the call of the government to blow the whistle on improper behaviour in the society are being punished, despite promises for their safety and protection.”

He noted that whistleblowers are being treated abominably and in a manner that threatens the use of whistleblowing as a tool for reducing corruption in the country.

Mr. Onumah narrated incidents of victimization, paying special attention to the plight of a certain Ntia Thompson who was an Assistant Director in the SERVICOM unit of the Department of Technical Cooperation in Africa, an agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also highlighted the struggles of a man named Aaron Kaase who worked in the Press Unit of the Police Service Commission. Since their revelations of fraud within their workplaces, Mr. Kaase and Mr. Thompson have been denied their salaries and allowances even after their reinstatement.

“As soon as Thompson, who was sacked in December 2016 for reporting fraud totalling $229,000, was reinstated in July 2017, he was redeployed to the library just to frustrate him. The emotional setback resulting from that made him ask for a transfer to another government office. As we speak, he is yet to be paid seven months’ salary, from the December 2016 to July 2017.

“And as for Kaase, who got a court judgment reinstating him in November 2017 but was not called back until March 2018, he has not been paid for three years now, since he was suspended without pay in May 2015 for reporting that the Chairman of the Commission, Mike Okiro, was involved in fraud of N275.5m in the Commission.”

The statement added that, apart from being denied his entitlements, Kaase is also being harassed with a trumped-up charge of visa scam where he is being falsely accused of collecting N1million to secure a visa to the United States of America for someone but failed to fulfill his end of the deal.

He called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to intervene and “rescue these patriotic Nigerians and save the lofty policy.”

In conclusion, the organisation urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to quicken actions on the allegations raised by the two whistleblowers.

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