The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has revealed that the proceed of crime and whistleblowing bills which amongst others sought the protection of whistleblowers is still pending at the National Assembly.
Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said in a statement that Malami made this revelation in Abuja during a live discussion programme on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on Tuesday.
He disclosed that the programme is a special one on the Whistle Blowing Policy of the Federal Government.
Isah stated that Malami in a response to a question appealed on the National Assembly to expedite action towards the passage of the bills as that will engender increased citizen participation in the graft war and whistle blowing activities stressing that, the law carries more weight than policy statement.
He pointed out that Nigeria is a member of the London Summit on the Anti-Corruption as well as the Open Government Partnership, adding that the international consensus in the fight against corruption to demonstrate the political goodwill is put across by Nigerians from the communiqué that arose from the London Summit.
Malami further reiterated that the political goodwill was aimed at exposing corruption and mismanagement of public resources and that the essence of it are meant to carry the public along and building the consensus that encompasses the fight against corruption.
In response to another question to whom whistle blowers should report, the AGF explained, that whistle blowing account with criminal undertone could be reported to the Office of the Honourable Attorney General but could also be routed to other anti-graft agencies, adding that the Ministry of Justice collaborates with other anti-graft agencies to ensure that justice is done to the report and the reporter.
The Minister equally said that the Federal Ministries of Justice and Finance are working on single deed document to eliminate the bottlenecks associated with reporting criminalities and administrative ills.
He said, “Single deed document is being developed to save whistle blowers of the tripartite process of reporting criminalities and administrative ills”.
Malami expressed dissatisfaction over the long stay of the proceed of crime and whistle blowing bills at the National Assembly expressing that if passed by the legislative arm, they would have provided legal backing to whistle blowers.
He affirmed, “So far, the only safeguard for whistle blowers rest on the political will”, however expressing satisfaction with the renewed interest of the anti-graft agencies in protecting whistle blowers.
“The agencies involved in prosecuting the anti-graft war are keying into the understanding of protecting whistle blowers”, Malami affirmed.
He expressed fulfillment that Nigerians are beginning to appreciate the public interest on the process, noting that it has come to a level where close relations have come up to blow the whistle against their allies, a scenario, he insist has led to recovery of serious security equipment.
“The policy is being accommodated wholeheartedly by Nigerians”, he revealed.
Speaking on the position of recovered looted funds, the Minister explained that recovered funds are paid into Federal Government account domiciled in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) under these sub heads: Consolidated Revenue Accounts, Recovered Loots Account and Treasury Single Accounts.
He stressed that the Federal Ministry of Justice recovers and remit to OAGF for keeps and utilization where and when necessary.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption who was on the program explained that whistle blowing is not only about individuals or organizations that corruptly enrich themselves, it involves administrative ills etc.
He further explained that the reward window for whistle blowers ranges from 2.5% or less but not exceeding 5% of the recovered sum. He was however quick to add that some whistle blowers do that on the grounds of patriotism thereby rejecting the monetary rewards attached to their efforts.
Bolaji was of the view that the Proceeds of Crime and Whistle Blowing Bill pending at the National Assembly should be passed without being subjected to another round of legislative process because of its importance and the negative consequences on those that willingly offer intelligence reports.
Also responding to a question on the program, Honourable Ado Doguwa, Chief Whip, House of Representatives maintained that no matter the urgency of the purpose the proceed of crime bill and whistle blowing bill may tend to achieve, legislative procedure and processes must be followed.
“No matter the urgency attached to the Proceed of Crime Bill and Whistle Blowing Bill, it must pass through the legislative process of 1st, 2nd and3 rd readings”, he emphasized, saying that, “NASS as an institution is committed to Proceed of Crime and Whistle Blowers Bill. I urge Nigerians to wait for a legal framework to support it, which will recommend the placement of the funds recovered to the benefit of Nigerians and security of whistle blowers.”