Law News
Whistle-blowers, FoI Act get AGF’s backing

The fight against corruption can be enhanced if the Freedom of Information Act 2011, is fully deployed and whistle-blowers are given adequate ‎protection.

The Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), identified this as key, expressing support for the full implementation of the FoI Act and protection for whistle-blowers.

The AGF gave this assurance when members of the Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, paid him a visit in his office recently.

Represented by ‎his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah,‎ the AGF noted that the FoI Act “is a piece of legislative instrument that is very strategic in the fight against corruption”.

Isah said in a statement on Tuesday that the minister welcomed collaborations with civil society groups to further take advantage of the Act to stem the tide of corruption in the country.

The minister said in addition to the FoI Act already in place, the government had set in motion a bill for the protection of whistle-blowers.

“Besides the Whistle-blowers bill and the Asset Forfeiture bill, also known as FATF Bill, which the minister is spearheading, he has, in the last couple of weeks, been working with a team of experts to transmit four critical anti-graft related bills to President (Muhammadu) Buhari for further transmission to the National Assembly.

“The relevant bills include the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Centre Bill that will domesticate the full remit of the FAFT Recommendation 29, the Proceeds of Crime Bill, and the Money Laundering (Prohibition and Prevention) Bill as well as the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill.

“So far, two of these bills, the Money Laundering (Prohibition and Prevention) as well as the Mutual Legal Assistance Bills, have been read on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 27,‎ 2016.

“It is the belief and hope of the Federal Government that these bills will not only support the policies of this administration in combating corruption and stolen asset return, they would also respond to the requirements of FAFT and international conventions.

“It is also our candid belief that government cannot do it alone but with the tacit support of civil society groups like your coalition. So, we are ready for any form of collaboration and synergy that will engender the full implementation of the FoI Act because it is the desire of Mr. President and my principal that it works its full course,” Isah told the FOICN delegation.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman, Board of Governors, Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria, Dr. Walter Duru, described the FoI Act as “a veritable instrument in the fight against corruption in Nigeria”.

He equally stressed that a strengthened FoI Act regime would enhance citizens’ demand for accountability and prevent or check corruption in Nigeria.

He added, “The FOI Coalition is aware of the steps taken so far by the Ministry in ensuring compliance by the MDAs, worthy of mention is the Federal Ministry of Justices’ Guideline on the implementation of the Act, a document adjudged critical in the building of the capacity of stakeholders.

“The core issues of FOI is in realising the importance of the FOI Act, 2011 towards sustaining democracy, good governance, national development and the need for relevant stakeholders to work together towards realising the objectives of the FOI Act, 2011.‎”

Duru also lauded the AGF for the “r-submission of some critical anti-corruption bills to the 8th National Assembly.”

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