Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), on Friday explained the rationale for rewarding whistle-blowers whose tip-offs led to recovering of looted funds.

Sagay spoke in Abuja at an ‘Evaluation workshop on the whistle-blower policy and the role of the inter-agency asset tracing team’ organised by PACAC.

Sagay said the five per cent of the recovery stipulated in the Whistle-blower Policy was the maximum reward, as some whistle-blowers can get less, depending on the amount of the loot recovered.

He said, “One controversial issue in the policy is the question of remuneration. The public seems to be fixated on five per cent. But in fact, five per cent is the maximum.

“It can be as little as one per cent, depending on the amount of money involved. It could be slightly more if it is an extremely large amount.”

The professor of law described the whistle-blower policy as “very successful”, adding that it was not limited to looted funds.

“Things like breach of procurement practice, which is closely associated with corruption, and unapproved expenditure by agencies, are all subject of whistle-blowing,” Sagay said.

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the Federal Government has received 1,231 tips from whistle-blowers since the policy was introduced in 2016.

Represented by the Head, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit and Whistle-blower Unit of the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mohammed Dikwa, Adeosun said 791 investigations were commenced, 534 had been concluded, with N7.8bn, $378m and £27,800 recovered so far.

Adeosun said the Whistle-blower Team in her ministry went on a study tour of the United Kingdom and met with relevant agencies to learn best practices.

“Following lessons learnt from the study tour, we will begin to focus more on preventive measures, putting in place tight control measures, making it more difficult for a few people to take away assets that belong to an entire country.

“In addition to this, the investigation framework of the whistle-blower policy will be reviewed.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to improve the effectiveness of the policy and put in place required institutions and tools to achieve our objective,” she said.

PACAC Executive Secretary, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said not all acts of whistle-blowing attracted rewards.

He said, as an example, a whistle-blower would not be rewarded for giving the tip-off leading to a stop of a planned diversion of funds.

He, however, urged Nigerians to view whistle-blowing as a civil duty and a constitutional responsibility.

“There is a duty to report, even without the five per cent reward,” he said.

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