*What you need to know to whistle-blow on fraud
By Sandra Onyekwere.
Ministry of Finance has been witnessing an overflow of Nigerians recently in response to Federal Executive Council pledge of 5 per cent reward on information bothering on corrupt practices and how to recover looted funds.
This policy which was launched on 21st December 2016 by the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has numerous patriotic Nigerians flooding the premises making inquiries on how and where they would deliver information that could lead to stopping or uncovering of fraud to the authorities.
Responding to this, FMF’s Director of Press, Alhaji Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta in a statement said an e-mail address, dedicated telephone number for receiving SMS, and a whistleblower’s portal has been provided for patriotic Nigerians with credible information to reach the team appointed to handle the issue.
“SMS 09098067946; Whistleblowers portal: http://www.finance.gov.ng/. E-MAIL: Whistle@finance.gov.ng”.
According to Dambatta, Nigerians with useful information about violation, misconduct or improper activities which can impact negatively on the Nigerian people and government are encouraged to do so through these dedicated channels.
Earlier, Mrs Aeosun had told State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday. She said the council approved a Whistle Blowing policy aimed at consolidating the ongoing anti-corruption campaign embarked upon by the present administration. Adeosun said the policy would soon be supported by a bill already receiving due attention of the National Assembly.
According to her, adequate measures are being taken to protect and safe guard the lives and identities of whistle blowers. “If you whistle-blow in public-spirit and in good faith, you will be protected. If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.”
Whistle-blowing Policy: 19 things you need to know
- What is the Federal Ministry of Finance Whistleblowing Programme? It is a programme designed to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on the Nigerian people and Government to report it.
- Who is a Whistleblower? Any person who voluntarily discloses information in good faith about a possible misconduct or violation that has occurred, is on-going, or is about to occur.
- What is the Whistleblowing Portal? A secure online portal where the information can be submitted. If you have already submitted your information, you can also check the status of your report on the portal.
- What type of information can be submitted? Some examples of information that can be submitted include: Mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets (e.g. properties and vehicles). Financial malpractice or fraud. Collecting / soliciting bribes. Corruption. Diversion of revenues. Fraudulent and unapproved payments. Splitting of contracts. Procurement fraud (kickbacks and over-invoicing etc.)
- What type of information cannot be submitted? The programme does not apply to personal matters concerning private contracts or agreements.
- How do I submit my information under the Whistleblower Programme? You can submit your information through the online portal by e-mail or by phone.
- Who can make use of the Whistleblowing Portal? Anybody with the required information including but not limited to: Internal stakeholders e.g. Government employees; Inter-Government stakeholders e.g. Government agencies; Institutional stakeholders; and All members of the public.
Can I submit my information to the Whistleblowing Portal anonymously? Yes. You do not have to disclose your identity while providing information.
- What additional information is required from a whistleblower? You can submit documentary evidence on the portal. You can also provide specific and fact based information such as what occurred, amount involved, who was involved and dates of occurrence on the portal.
- Will my identity remain confidential? Yes. Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent within the limitations of the law. If you choose not to disclose your identity, there will be no record of who you are. If you choose to disclose your identity, it will be fully protected.
- Will I be protected as a whistleblower? Yes. If you whistleblow in public-spirit and in good faith, you will be protected. If you feel that you have been treated badly because of your report, you can file a formal complaint. If you have suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.
- How will the information that I provided be used? The information you provide will be reviewed and analysed to determine whether or not to open an investigation on the matter. Investigations will be confidential, objective and speedy.
- What if it is a criminal case? That has been considered. It will be referred to the relevant agencies; Police, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) or Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
- Will there be sanctions for individuals or corporate bodies involved in diversion of public funds? Yes. Referral to anti-corruption agencies for possible prosecution. Blacklisted from working with or doing business with the Government.
- Is the whistleblower entitled to a financial reward? It depends. If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistleblower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5% (Minimum) and 5.0% (Maximum) of the total amount recovered. You must have provided the Government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the Government. 16 – Is there protection from False or Malicious Claims? Yes. A first level review will always be carried out to determine credibility and sufficiency of information received. If you report false or misleading information, it will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.
- What turnaround time should I expect once the information is acknowledged?
- You receive an acknowledgement immediately you submit the information.
- An initial review to confirm violation or potential violation (10 working days)
- If an investigation is opened, the nature and complexity of the matters under investigation will dictate the time frame.
- You can always independently monitor the status or progress report with code generated.
- Can I receive status updates on the progress with the information that I have provided? Yes. When you submit information, the portal will generate a unique reference number. To know the status of your submitted tip, simply click on “Get Feedback” and enter the reference number.
- What is the purpose or expected outcome of the programme? Increase exposure of financial or financial related crimes; Support the fight against financial crimes and corruption; Improved level of public confidence in public entities; Enhance transparency and accountability in the management of public funds; Improve Nigeria’s Open Government Ranking and Ease of Doing Business Indicators; and Recovery of public funds that can be deployed to finance Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.