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Talking Law with Ivie Omoregie: Just Before You Blow that Snitch Whistle, Here Are Some Things to Consider

Ivie Omoregie

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As we all know, there has been a drastic drop in Nigeria’s federal revenue due to the fall in oil prices and the general mismanagement of the countries resources under previous administrations; the resultant effect is that Nigeria is now seriously strapped for cash.

In an innovative drive to raise revenue and expose public officials involved in improper conduct, the federal government of Nigeria introduced the Whistle Blower Policy.
Many people do not know the details of the policy; however, what has resonated in most peoples minds is the simple fact that who ever informs the government of looted public funds becomes entitled to between 2.5% – 5% of the value of the looted funds once recovered, as compensation for their efforts.

To Snitch Or Not To Snitch
As you can trust, our ever faithful Nigerian compatriots have been flocking to the nations call like bees to honey. In the last few weeks we have seen an unprecedented influx of people informing the government of various facts, which I presume, have been to their knowledge for quite some time… I can only wonder what is prompting this sudden urge to share this information (can you just picture security guards around the country turning into mathematicians when doing their calculations).

In this article I share my thoughts on this new “policy”. I have been meaning to do this for some time, but felt the urge to write now given the influx and gravity of recent discoveries.

Just Before You Run And Snitch…
I must stress that although the Whistle Blower Bill was laid before the Nigerian Senate in October of 2015, we are now in April of 2017 and the bill is yet to be passed into law, thus the policy is currently merely a tentative measure. This to me is quite concerning.

I understand the fact that the President does not have the power to waive Constitutional protocol when it comes to the passage of bills into law; however, the bill could have been an executive bill sponsored by the President himself and he could have mounted political pressure to lobby the House of Reps and the Senate for the swift enactment of the bill. Both to my knowledge have not been done and almost 2 years later the bill is only at the second reading.

I personally cannot imagine the unease this nature of law would bring unto our public officials. This may be relatable to why they do not seem entirely enthusiastic about enacting the draft bill.

Wait A Minute!
The policy stresses transparency and accountability, however I am yet to see any published information pertaining to the loot so far recovered. What is clear from official publications is that billions of naira have been recovered. The following questions have been revolving in my mind for the past few months:

• Are these looted funds kept in the EFCC offices?
• Are they paid into a particular account?
• If so which account?
• Have any of the looted funds been spent so far?
• If so, what are the projects these looted funds have been utilized for?

One thing that concerns me here is the re-misappropriation of the looted funds, how do we even know that the agents who are sent to investigate the tip offs are not taking their “personal commission” prior to disclosing the discovery.

Mathematical Analysis
The policy promises between 2.5% and 5% of the recovery value as a reward to the person or persons who assist in the recovery; however it is not quite clear how the exact reward due to the informant is determined. The difference between 2.5% and 5% on N1 Billion is a lot of money.

I must also stress that according the Federal Ministry of Finance Whistle Blowing FAQs the following caveats need to be met for one to qualify for this reward;

1. The Whistleblower must provide the Government with information it does not already have;

2. The information provided should not be obtainable by the Government from any other publicly available source; and

3. The actual recovery must also be on account of the information provided by the Whistleblower.

Please how can one verify what information the government has, what is obtainable and if ones information is entirely responsible for the actual recovery.

Also, another gray area appears to be the point at which the informant is paid. I am sure most informants would like their cash as soon as the officials are recovering the loot or within a matter of hours thereafter. Since the policy is not yet enacted, this is something that has not been determined.

There are some who argue that, due to the legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the money can only be paid to the informant after the prosecution and subsequent conviction of the persons who initially looted the money. Imagine if the accused looter had a legal right to the money in their possession, what becomes of the 5% paid to the informant at the onset.

You Are On Your Own!
The general assertion is that an informant is protected by law, thus should not be unfairly treated should it come to light that they were the source of the information. However, in reality, given the peculiarities of the country in which we live, the likely hood of the Federal Government remembering the informant several weeks or even months after they have successfully dealt with any misappropriations are slim to none.

“Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent possible within the limitations of the law.” (taken from the Federal Ministry of Finance Whistle Blowing FAQs)

I have read from various sources that said informant can raise concerns should anything happen to them, but there seems to be no mention as to the implications of the unfair treatment of any known informant. I also wonder if there is going to be a special task force designated for their protection… somehow I doubt so.

Conclusion
I must stress that my intentions in writing this article is not to deter the general public from assisting in the recovery of looted funds. My concern is in instances where individuals are putting their lives in danger only to be “played” by the Federal Government.

As we all know, corruption is somewhat entrenched in the Nigerian system, and the fact remains that most of the persons who were responsible for the misappropriations under previous administrations are still somewhat relevant under this administration and still very powerful people.

I have often wondered what happened to all the “Abacha Loot” returned to Nigeria by foreign governments (estimated at almost $1billion) and then I am reminded of how the cash, valued at $15million, James Ibori paid to Nuhu Ribadu got “lost” after Mr. Ribadu lodged it as evidence in Mr. Ibori’s corruption case.

I hope this policy is properly implemented, the rate and volumes being misappropriated can only be described as kleptomania; for the swift development of the country drastic measures have to be put in force. But first the government on their part must be transparent and unequivocal in their pursuit of justice.

Ivie Omoregie is the Founding Consultant at Skye Advisory. Skye Advisory is a boutique business advisory firm with locations in London, England, as well as Lagos, Nigeria. Skye Advisory offers bespoke Legal, Financial and General Business advisory services to small and micro businesses. Ivie is a duly qualified lawyer with years of cross border experience in the areas of Corporate Advisory, Energy and Projects, Finance and Litigation.  Ivie is also an active member of the Nigerian Bar Association as well as an avid woman's and children's rights promoter. View more details about her at www.IvieOmoregie.com. Follow her on Twitter @Ivie_Omoregie and Instagram @Ivie.Omoregie "

17 Comments

  1. Ade

    April 17, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Na wha, and I was just about to blow my whistle.

    Nigeria shaaaa, the government literally cannot do any thing right.

  2. Nkechi

    April 17, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Welcome back ivie. I have missed your write ups.

  3. Aikay

    April 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Hmmmm, really thought provoking

  4. Belle

    April 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Hia! Thanks Ivie, I was about going to report some huge beautiful locked up houses in my area, but I think I better stay here and sock my garri

  5. Live In Ibadan

    April 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Lmao. This whitsleblowing stuff na real business o. Come and see guys calculating how much they would make when they magalise some wealthy men in the area. This article came at the right time.

    http://www.liveinibadan.blogspot.com

  6. Toks

    April 17, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Absolutely love your style of writing. Well done.

  7. Bimbo

    April 17, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    If I know anybody the whereabouts of any stolen money 8 would blow the whistle for FREE ! So would plenty of people . Madam keep your thief thief advice to yourself. You probably.know a lot of thieves so you want to discourage people from snitching. Nonsense talk

    • Bummi

      April 17, 2017 at 8:48 pm

      Madam its either you read the article properly or you go back to school.

      Choose one

    • Chu

      April 17, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      So that’s what you got from the article? Low level thinking, very sad.

    • Jacob

      April 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      Bimbo, please can you read the article? Thank you.

  8. Jason

    April 17, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    This is exactly what I have been saying in the office since. These people want to use their enemy’s head to find the money the last administration stole so that they can steal it again. I don tire for this out government sha.

  9. Jacob

    April 17, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    My friend and I had a hard time understanding or agreeing on the structure, administration, and effectiveness of this whistle blowing policy over dinner last night. I’d say this is timely, enjoyable and informative. All thanks to you, Ivie.

  10. Mayo

    April 18, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Na wha for this government ooh. Them just dey wayo person. Their gonna get people killed for no reason. #Speechless

  11. Clay

    April 18, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Whistle blower this whistle blower that. I’m soo happy someone has sat down and analysed this policy properly.

  12. Enkay

    April 19, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Ivie as deep and intelligible as your write-up is, I can say it has succeeded in discouraging whistle-blowing in Nigeria. Yes, you may have hinted discouraging prospective whistle-blowers isn’t the intent of your article but please take a minute and look through the above comment section, res ipsa liquitur. I think you should be more interested in how Nigeria can recover stolen funds rather than making it seem like if the laws in place do not completely protect whistle-blowers then they can keep the information to themselves. Don’t lose track of the aim here which is recovering stolen funds: compensating snitches is only secondary. Your article is brilliant but I think it should be directed at the Senate, for proper measures to be put in place not to the general public to discourage them. My two pence!

    • Ben

      April 19, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Snitches end up in stitches

      What’s the point of the innocent bystander risking their life’s for a cause that has not been properly implemented and for the promise of money they will never get. I would rather the money stays hidden than for it to be found and then stolen again. I love this article because it highlights points that many people have not considered.

  13. Artie King Adigwe

    May 5, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Great piece of writing. The senario is like fighting thier own reflection in a mirror. The bill cant be passed by them, the nigerian political structure is quite a planned shuffle of interests.

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