Senate okays five-year jail term for false whistle-blowers

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Image result for Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti-The Senate on Wednesday passed the Whistle-Blowers Protection Bill, which recommends a five-year jail term or N10m fine against persons who raise false alarm on hidden loot.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly also approved that five per cent of loot recovered as a result of information from a whistle-blower be given to the informant, as currently being practised by the Federal Government.

The passage of the bill, which was sponsored by the Deputy Minority Whip, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti-South), followed the consideration and adoption of the report by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

The panel said the bill was to build a legal framework for whistle-blowing as part of the anti-corruption campaigns of the current administration.

The report said, “First, it seeks to encourage and facilitate disclosures of improper conduct by persons, public officers and corporate bodies both private and public sectors. Second, it ensures that matters disclosed are properly investigated and handled appropriately in accordance with the law.

“Third, the bill seeks to ensure adequate protection for the whistle-blowers from reprisals, victimisations, job losses, isolation, humiliation, which are some of the consequences for whistle-blowing.

“Fourth, this legal framework also contemplates financial reward for any disclosure that leads to discovery and recovery of funds, properties, e.t.c, to serve as incentive for potential whistle-blowers.

“On the whole, this mechanism is a recognised concept, which has been adopted by many countries in the world and it has helped in the fight against corruption.”

The panel, as part of its observations and findings, said stakeholders at the public hearing it organised unanimously supported the passage of the bill “as it will give more impetus to the fight against corruption and reinforce government’s policy on whistle-blowing.”

In the report, the committee also said in order to have a comprehensive legislation and to sufficiently address related issues on whistle-blowing in line with global best practices, the panel made further consultations to enrich the bill.

The panel further stated, “The passage of the bill will guarantee adequate protection for potential whistle-blowers against reprisals, victimisation, job losses, e.t.c.

“The provision that contemplates monetary reward for whistle-blowers, whose information lead to discovery of looted funds, proceeds of crime or improper conduct, is a laudable and innovative provision of this bill. The provision will further strengthen the policy currently being adopted by the Federal Government, which is already yielding positive results.

“This proposed legislation has been enforced in other jurisdictions and it has helped in the fight against corruption and improper conduct by public officers, individuals and corporations.”

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the legislature had kept its promise on efforts to join the anti-graft war.

He said, “This is a promise kept. Today, we have passed a landmark piece of legislation to fight corruption and protect patriotic Nigerians who are fighting corruption. This bill will protect the lives of those who risk themselves to expose corrupt practices in Nigeria.”

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