Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), a civil society organisation working on building support for the whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria, has expressed delight at the news of the reinstatement of a sacked whistleblower at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ntia Thompson.
Mr. Thompson, an Assistant Director in the Servicom Unit of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), was first suspended on the 19th December, 2016, and finally wrongfully disengaged from service on 23rd February, 2017, for exposing fraud to the tune of $229,000 and N800,000 allegedly committed by Mr. Mohammaed Kachallah, Director-General of DTCA. The case is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“As frontline stakeholders in the whistleblower policy, we are happy about Ntia’s reinstatement because the way government treats cases like this can give us an idea of how seriously whistleblowing should be taken as an anti-corruption policy of government,” noted Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRICMIL. “Ntia’s case is a triumph of good over evil and it gives us hope that we are moving in the right direction on the whistle blower policy.”
AFRICMIL commended the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs for their crucial roles in ensuring that the whistleblower was called back to work without further delay. It reminded the government that in much the same way Thompson was persecuted, two whistleblowers, Aaron Kaase of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and Murtala Ibrahim of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), are concrete examples of victims of the intense tyranny of their bosses. Kaase has been on suspension without pay since 21st May, 2016, while Ibrahim was dismissed outright.
AFRICMIL called on the relevant agencies of government and the Ministers supervising these institutions to urgently take necessary steps to return these workers to their offices and investigate the misconduct they reported. The organisation noted that in addition to the laudable act of returning whistleblowers back to office, investigating bodies, where cases have been reported, needed to speed up the process of investigation and ensure that those indicted are made to face the full wrath of the law.
“While it is ethically correct to recall a dismissed whistleblower, it is also morally right that action is taken on the reported wrongdoing in a just manner. Only through that way can the confidence of potential whistleblowers be sustained,” Onumah noted.
Onumah urged the Federal Ministry of Finance, the administrator of the whistleblower policy, to promptly work out firm guidelines for the safety and protection of whistleblowers, pending the passage of the whistleblower protection bill by the National Assembly.