We must protect whistle blowers in fight against corruption – Osinbajo

By Oluwaseun Sonde

The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has said that Government must protect whistle-blowers, persons who come forward with information against corruption, and who are prepared to do so without necessarily disclosing their identities, as they are vital key to boost the fight against corruption.

He disclosed this at the 20th Anniversary Africa Regional Webinar of the ICPC, themed Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows: New Measures and Strategies on Tuesday, he said the fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, while many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption.

He added that it is the duty of both individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that government prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra-headed problem itself continue to manifest in different ways.

“Corruption also fight back because it has the resources to do so. In recent times, one of the chief ways that we are seeing more frequently is the use of unscrupulous individuals who are paid to use social media platforms to make outrageous allegations against persons perceived to be fighting corruption.

“The technique is not new, the idea is to tie everybody with the same tar so that you cannot recognize the truly corrupt or the truly corrupt activity, and the genuine whistle-blowing is discredited as a result.

“And because our court system is slow, they count on the possibility that these victims may not pursue litigation or prosecution: you must devise a new legal strategy to ensure that this dirty trick not only fail but are penalized”, he said.

He noted that in May 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit, President Muhammadu Buhari made a commitment to establish a public register of the beneficial owners of all companies operating in Nigeria. “Following that commitment, Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in December 2016 and subsequently submitted a National Action Plan prioritizing the establishment of an all-encompassing and publicly accessible register.

“Nigeria is in the process of amending its corporate law to implement these measures and mandate the disclosure of beneficial interest in a company’s shares and prescribe punitive measures for failure to disclose. We are mindful of the challenges dogging advocacy for stemming IFFs, promotion of asset recovery and return to victim countries, and enforcement of beneficial ownership disclosure not just in our country but globally”, he said.

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