Michael Onwuka, Enugu
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has expressed concern over the victimisation of a whistleblower, Richard Oghenerhoro, who exposed and publicised fraudulent employment practices in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
It, therefore, called on the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to protect Oghenerhoro from further victimisation by some highly placed officials of the ministry.
The coalition include African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG), Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The group noted that Oghenerhoro had been subjected to intimidation and verbal assault by some members of staff of the ministry.
According to the coalition, Oghenerhoro’s courageous act has elicited retaliation in form of punitive postings from the Appointment Unit where he uncovered the employment scam, to Open Registry and then a removal from the headquarters altogether to the Gwagwalada office as head of administration department.
“Other than his ill-advised redeployment, the whistleblower has also been continually abused and threatened by some staff who are clearly angered by a gesture aimed at achieving good conduct,” it said.
It called on Fashola to reverse such punitive postings involving the whistleblower and to grant him full administrative protection in the ministry.
It described the attack on the whistleblower as reprehensible, adding that such patriotic citizen did not deserve any form of punishment either by the institution or by any person.
“The matter he reported is in the public interest and within the scope of the whistleblowing policy of the Nigerian government.
“The whistleblower is guaranteed full protection not only under Section 12 of the policy, but also under Section 27 of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, 2011, and Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution which covers his fundamental right to free expression,” it said.
The coalition noted that the only way whistleblowing as an anti-corruption policy would succeed was for whistleblowers to be protected by the law or the system put in place by government.