Law News
Senate passes whistle blowers protection bill

The Senate on Wednesday passed the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, which seeks to encourage and facilitate the disclosure of improper conducts by public officers and public bodies.

The bill, was presented by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, chaired by Senator David Umaru (Niger East).

Entitled, “An Act to Protect Persons Making Disclosures for the Public Interest and Others from Reprisals, to Provide for the Matters Disclosed to be Properly Investigated and Dealt with and for other Purposes Related Therewith”, also seeks to ensure that persons who make disclosures and persons who may suffer reprisals in relation to such disclosures are protected under the law.

It specified who is qualified to make disclosures of improper conduct; the procedure for making disclosures; and the protection due to whistleblowers.

By virtue of the bill, a person who makes a disclosure shall not be subject to victimisation by his or her employers or by fellow employees.

In addition, a person who makes a disclosure has the right to take legal action if he or she is victimised by way of dismissal, suspension vindictive transfer, harassment, intimidation or being rendered redundant.

In his remarks after the passage, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, described the passage as promise kept and protection for patriotic citizens joining the anti-corruption fight.

He said, “This is a promise kept. Today, we have passed a landmark piece of legislation to fight corruption and protect patriotic Nigerians who are fighting corruption.

“This Bill will protect the lives of those who take the risk to expose corrupt practices in Nigeria”.

While debating the bill, the lawmakers described it as legal mechanism and concept, adopted by many countries in the world and which has helped in the fight against corruption.

They also noted that the various stakeholders unanimously supported the passage of the bill as it will give more impetus to the fight against corruption and reinforce government’s policy on whistle blowing.

Also considered was the potential to sufficiently address related issues on whistleblowing in line with global best practices.

One of the safety catches in the bill is the guarantee of adequate protection for potential whistle blowers against reprisals, victimisation, job losses, etc.

Also considered was the provision that contemplates monetary reward for whistle ‘ blowers whose information might lead to discovery of looted funds, proceeds of crime or improper conduct.

The senators noted that provisions of the bill will further strengthen the policy currently being adopted by the Federal Government, which is already yielding positive results.

They also observed that similar legislation has been enforced in other jurisdictions and it has helped in the fight against corruption and improper conducts by public officers, individuals and corporations.

It’s the third anti-corruption related bill to be passed by the Senate this year. The Senate had earlier concluded work and passed the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill the Witness Protection Bill.

However, the bill requesting the establishment of special anti-corruption court has been sent to the Constitution Amendment Committee.

Also, the Proceeds of Crime Bill has been sent to the Senate Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption and Judiciary for further deliberation.

Source: Augustine Ehikioya

The Nation

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