• Friday, September 29, 2023
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World Anti-Corruption Day: ANEEJ tasks NASS on passage of whistleblower, witness protection bills

World Anti-Corruption Day: ANEEJ tasks NASS on passage of whistleblower, witness protection bills

Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a non-governmental organization, has called on the National Assembly to expedite action in the passage of the whistleblower and witness protection bills that are currently before it.

David Ugolor, the executive director of the organisation, made the call on Friday at a press briefing as part of the activities marking the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day in Benin City.

Ugolor, represented by Leo Atakpu, deputy executive director of the organization, said the passage of the bills and subsequent assent by President Muhammadu Buhari will help strengthen the battle against corruption in the country.

According to him, the Witness Protection and Management Bill and the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection Bill 2022 (Whistleblower Bill) are still pending.

“We urge the Presidential Initiative for Continuous Audit (PICA) within the Federal Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly to do the needful to conclude work on these pending anti-corruption bills,” he said.

While commending the federal government’s efforts in concluding work on some anti-corruption laws such as the Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Act 2022, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and terrorism respectively, he opined that whistleblowers are not sufficiently protected by the existing laws in the country.

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He also opined that the passage of the whistleblower and witness protection bills by the National Assembly and assent by the president will help protect citizens against unforeseen dangers.

The ANEEJ boss, who added that the laws must be clarified on how the whistleblowers and witness should be protected, advocated that the two bills should be immediately passed to run in pari passu with the existing anti-corruption laws.

“The whistleblowers need that protection because at the moment people are afraid to disclose corrupt practices as they are not protected sufficiently by the existing laws in the land.

“That is why we believe that such an act of parliament will help to protect citizens.

“You will agree with me that certain citizens who are in a place where corruption is being perpetuated will nurse that fear that if they disclose any act of corruption against anybody; their entire families are in danger as they might be wiped out if they expose such a person.

“So, such a person will conclude that it will be better not to say anything. So they keep quiet and become complacent. That is why we need this bill to protect the whistleblowers”, he added.

He encouraged the Federal Government to provide support for the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) to meet quarterly to promote learning and collaboration among anti-corruption agencies.

He said the support should be in the area of funding and human capacity building.

He also appreciated Palladium and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for providing the resources for the organisation and the anti-corruption cluster to implement the Enhancing Anti-corruption and Social Inclusive Reform Initiatives in Nigeria project.