Malami asked to ‘rescue’ whistleblowers whose salaries are being withheld
African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), a civil society organisation, has asked Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, to rescue two reinstated whistleblowers whose salaries have been withheld.
In a statement on Wednesday, Chido Onumah, coordinator of the anti-corruption organisation, said two whistleblowers in the public service who were unjustly sacked for exposing financial fraud and subsequently recalled are currently going through a fresh round of victimisation in form of withheld salaries.
He said Ntia Thompson, an assistant director in the SERVICOM unit of the department of Technical Cooperation in Africa, an agency of the ministry of foreign affairs, and Aaron Kaase of the press unit of the Police Service Commission (PSC), have been denied their salaries and allowances since their reinstatement.
Onumah said the continued persecution of whistleblowers by agents of the state is threatening the effectiveness of the whistleblower policy introduced by the government to curb endemic corruption in Nigeria.
He urged Malami to “rescue the patriotic Nigerians and save the lofty policy” while he also implored the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to expedite action on the allegations raised by the two whistleblowers.
“It is most disturbing that citizens who, at the risk of their personal safety, decided to heed the call of the government to blow the whistle on improper behaviour in the society are being punished, despite promises for their safety and protection,” the statement read.
“As soon as Thompson who was sacked in December 2016 for reporting fraud totalling $229,000 was reinstated in July 2017, he was redeployed to the library just to frustrate him. The emotional setback resulting from that made him ask for transfer to another government office. As we speak, he is yet to be paid seven months’ salary, from the December 2016 to July 2017.
“And as for Kaase who got a court judgment reinstating him in November 2017 but was not called back until March 2018, he has not been paid for three years now, since he was suspended without pay in May 2015 for reporting that the chairman of the commission, Mike Okiro, was involved in fraud of N275.5m.”
He added that besides being denied his entitlements, Kaase is also being harassed with a trumped-up charge of visa scam.
“Clearly, this allegation was manufactured by those whom he had accused of fraud so as to intimidate and shut him up. Although two different courts have discharged and acquitted Kaase for lack of diligent prosecution and lack of evidence to prosecute the case, respectively, his tormentors have refused to back off.
“Unless we commit to sustaining the confidence of whistleblowers by ensuring their full protection, whistleblowing will not deliver the result we all expect,” he said.