Whistleblower bill scales second reading in Reps

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has taken another step towards passing the Whistleblower Bill as the bill scales through its second reading.

The bill was jointly sponsored by Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) and Kayode Oladele (APC, Ogun).

According to Gbajabiamila, the bill will “provide for the manner in which individuals may, in the public interest, disclose information that relates to the unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of others.”

It will also “provide for the protection against victimization of persons who make these disclosures and to reward individuals who make the disclosures and to encourage and facilitate whistle blowing, to regulate the receiving, investigating and otherwise dealing with disclosures by whistle blowers, and to protect whistle blowers from reprisals; and other adverse actions.”

Leading the debate on the bill, Oladele said: “Corruption is not just a crime but a crime against humanity,” adding, “even though we have agencies fighting corruption, we need [to involve the people] and also protect them.

“There is no law to protect the people…People are afraid of political [whistle] blowing and political witch hunting.”

Aminu Shagari (APC, Sokoto) noted that there is no difference between the Whistleblower Bill and the Witness Protection Act. He argued that instead of passing a new bill, the witness protection law should be amended to include financial compensation.

In his contribution, Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno) noted that the Witness Protection Act protects witnesses against harm, while the Whistleblower Act will provide the framework for rewarding and protecting informants who are voluntarily providing information.

He added that the bill is important in order to enhance citizen engagement in the fight against corruption, noting that it is about people giving information and avoiding malicious allegations.

On the other hand, Ehioze Agbonayinma (APC, Edo) almost caused a fracas through his remarks on the bill. While debating on the floor of the House, he stated that only corrupt people would oppose the bill in any form. In response to this, his colleagues shouted him down.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Justice.

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