The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a whistleblowing policy to check fraud in both public and private
Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun disclosed this to State House reporters after the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.She said the policy, devised by her ministry, is to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on Nigerians and government to report it.
She said the policy was aimed at increasing exposure of financial or financial related crimes; supporting the fight against financial crimes and corruption; improving level of public confidence in public entities; enhancing transparency and accountability in the management of public funds; improving Nigeria’s Open Government Ranking and Ease of Doing Business Indicators; and recovering public funds that can be deployed to finance Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.
According to her, information that can be submitted include: mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets (e.g. properties and vehicles); financial malpractice or fraud; collecting/ soliciting bribes; corruption; diversion of revenues; fraudulent and unapproved payments; splitting of contracts; procurement fraud (kickbacks and over-invoicing etc.)
She said a whistle-blower is any person who voluntarily discloses information in good faith about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is ongoing, or is about to occur.
The minister, who noted that there was a secure online portal where information could be submitted, said: "If you have already submitted your information, you can also check the status of your report on the portal."
Noting that the policy does not apply to personal matters concerning private contracts or agreements, she said whistleblowers could submit their information through the online portal by e-mail or by phone.
On whether a whistleblower is entitled to a financial reward, she responded: "It depends. If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistleblower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5% (minimum) and 5.0% (maximum) of the total amount recovered.
"You must have provided the government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the Government."
Asked if there is protection from false or malicious claims, she said: "Yes. A first level review will always be carried out to determine credibility and sufficiency of information received. If you report false or misleading information, it will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution."