THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recovered over N527 billion in two years through the Federal Government’s whistleblowing policy.
Its Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, stated this yesterday at a Southsouth town hall meeting on whistleblowing and the fight against corruption in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, by African Centre for Media and Information (AFRICMIL), in partnership with Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action).
Magu, who was represented at the event by the commission’s official, Usman Mukhtar, said the agency within the period under review also recovered $53 million as well as over 122,000 pounds.
He added that the amounts were recovered following the Federal Government’s whistleblowing policy.
He said: “More successes are being made and the response by members of the public to the policy has been very encouraging.
“The government’s whistleblowing policy was introduced in 2016 and is geared towards fraud detection, tracking and reporting to appropriate agencies and to enable patriotic citizens report criminal acts such as mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets, like properties and vehicles; financial malpractice or fraud; collecting / soliciting bribes; corruption; diversion of revenues; unapproved payments; splitting of contracts; procurement fraud; kickbacks and over-invoicing.”
Magu explained that the policy gave avenues for patriotic Nigerians to report criminal acts, which were inimical to the country’s growth.
He, however, noted some challenges affecting the effectiveness of whistleblowing policy as including poor legislation, the security of whistleblowers and those intending whistleblowers.
The Acting EFCC Chairman explained that the fear of victimisation or attacks of whistleblowers in their places of work were being addressed by the Whistleblower Protection Act passed by the National in 2017.
“The Act provides that “a person who makes a disclosure shall not be subject to victimisation by his or her employers or by fellow employees.
“Additionally, a person who makes a disclosure has the right to take legal action, if he or she is victimised, dismissed, suspended, declared redundant, transferred against his or her will, harassed or intimidated in any manner.”
Assistant Director, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, Ministry of Finance Johnson Oludare explained why recovered looted funds were not immediately reinjected into the economy.
He stated that until a final forfeiture order is obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction, nobody can disburse the funds.
He said: “Not all the monies that we have been able to recover can be disbursed into the economy because of the legal hurdles that must be fully concluded. If funds are under interim forfeiture and the matter concerning that fund is not concluded in court, we cannot disburse it.
“But for some funds that the legal hurdles have been crossed, we have put into the economy through the budget in the form of inflows.”