By Press Release
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, says the government is not backing down on the enactment of whistleblower law.
Fagbemi revealed that plans are underway to reintroduce the aborted whistleblower bill to the 10th National Assembly.
The Nigeria’s Chief Law Officer pledged during a town hall meeting organised by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development (PRIMORG) in collaboration with the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) at the weekend in Abuja.
The development is also coming ahead of a Policy Roundtable on Whistleblower Protection Law slated for Tuesday, November 7, 2023, in Abuja.
Represented by the Chief Legal Officer, Ministry of Justice, Adesoji Afolabi, the AGF emphasised that the whistleblower bill that did not see the light of the day during the 9th National Assembly will be reintroduced to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and then forwarded to the parliament.
“In legislative process and procedures, once a bill couldn’t be passed in the last Assembly, that means it needs to be reintroduced, and I think the Federal Ministry of Finance is about doing that.
“Government will put all efforts to ensure that the bill is reintroduced, and when it is done, I trust our Honourable Attorney General who will now take it up from there, because you can’t fight corruption based on policy because whistleblower policy does not have the force of law.
“The government is interested in fighting corruption, and the law does not target any person,” Afolabi stressed.
He noted that the immediate past assembly couldn’t pass whistleblower bills with them into law because of timing, adding that this time, “I’m optimistic whistleblower legislation is a reality.”
The Minister also urged Nigerians to support the government’s efforts to fight corruption while hailing AFRICMIL, PRIMORG and other CSOs for lending their voices towards legislation for whistleblowing.
The Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Dr. Chido Onumah, said whistleblower legislation would be a legacy for President Bola Tinubu’s administration if achieved, adding that Nigerians who are willing to expose corrupt acts are deterred by a lack of laws to protect whistleblowers.
Speaking on the forthcoming Policy Roundtable on Whistleblower Protection Law, Onumah revealed that it is an advocacy put together by AFRICMIL in collaboration with PRIMORG and other civil society groups to “develop key ideas and strategies to put whistleblowing and the passage of a whistleblower protection law in Nigeria on the front burner of the national conversation.”
“Among other things, participants will take stock of the situation of whistleblowing and whistleblowers in Nigeria, the current position of the draft whistleblower protection law, as well as challenges and opportunities in the quest to have a whistleblower protection law in Nigeria,” Onumah stated.
Stakeholders expected at the policy roundtable are drawn from civil society organizations, media, the National Assembly, public interest lawyers, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies.
Meanwhile, other participants at the town hall meeting underscored the importance of strengthening the anti-corruption fight with whistleblower legislation while urging federal lawmakers to prioritise the passage of whistleblower protection law.
According to a Legal practitioner, Godwin Chigbu, “Without a whistleblower protection law, the existing policy will not be adequately executed. President Tinubu needs whistleblower law to recover stolen funds belonging to Nigeria.”
On his part, a journalist with The Cable, Gyep Shibayan, asked the National Assembly to give the enactment of a whistleblower protection law accelerated attention.
The Radio Town Hall meeting series is aimed at increasing citizens’ active participation and involvement and encouraging the government to institutionalise the whistleblowing policy.
The Programme runs with support from the MacArthur Foundation.