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Sack of Whistleblowers: Group Raises Alarm over Threat to Policy

By JAMES EZEMA

Worried over sack of whistle blower by the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and failure to reinstate another by Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), has raised the alarm over threat the the policy by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The civil society organization working on building support for the whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria, noted in a statement that “The sack of Murtala Ibrahim, an auditor in the bank, for blowing the whistle and refusing to cover up a contract scam and manufactured financial report of the bank, is yet another slap on the government’s whistle blower policy.”

Co-ordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah, said the sack of Mr. Ibrahim “is one case too many coming at a time when another whistle blower, Mr. Ntia Thompson, is still battling for reinstatement several months after his sack and over two months since his recommended reinstatement by the Head of Service of the Federation”.

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The statement frowned at what it called obvious witch-hunt of the whistle blower by transferring him from the headquarters to a branch in one of the States and then following up with a query “which cautioned him for doing his official work, and when they couldn’t fault his explanation the bank went on to dismiss Mr. Ibrahim for the ridiculous reason that his service was no longer needed”.

AFRICMIL demands immediate reinstatement of the whistle blower while urging Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, whose Ministry oversees the bank, to order a thorough investigation of the scandal.

On the case of Mr. Thompson, AFRICMIL noted that two separate letters from the Office of the Head of Civil of the Federation (OHCSF) signed by Mrs. Nuratu Batagarawa, Permanent Secretary, Service Policies and Strategies Office, were addressed to Ambassador Sola Enikanolaye, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asking him to take urgent action on the whistleblower’s case.

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The organization expressed regret over failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to comply with the directive of the OHCSF requesting that Mr. Thompson be recalled and all disciplinary procedures suspended pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation of the case of fraud at the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA) by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

“The last letter, dated April 5, 2017,” Onumah observed, “made it clear to Ambassador Enikanolaye that by the provisions of the Public Service Rules (PSR), the offences alleged to have been committed by Mr. Thompson were not punishable by retirement from service.”

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AFRICMIL unreservedly extends gratitude to the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation for promptly wading into the matter by calling for the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Thompson and reiterating its commitment to safeguarding the policy of government on the protection of whistleblowers by directing its full implementation by all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

“We hereby call on the federal government to take decisive action on safety of whistle blowers.

“If government cannot protect internal whistle blowers what more can be expected for outsiders and other Nigerians? “Instead of persecution or victimization, whistle blowers like Mr. Thompson and Ibrahim ought to be rewarded for their acts of patriotism,” Onumah stated.

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