Tuesday, February 16, 2021

AFRICMIL organises workshop for lawyers on whistleblowing


tiamin rice

The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, Thursday, said the involvement of Nigerian Lawyers in the fight against corruption is of great importance as far as protection for whistle-blowers is concerned.

Chido Onumah, Cordinator of the Centre, made the statement during a one-day workshop for lawyers on whistleblowing and whistle-blower protection.

The workshop, which was organised by AFRICMIL in Abuja, was designed to educate lawyers on the rudiments of the whistle-blower policy, while identifying critical stakeholders in the promotion of  the policy within the legal profession.

AFRICMIL, a not-for-profit organisation, in 2017 launched an anti-corruption project tagged Corruption Anonymous, which is supported by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.

The project seeks to sensitize Nigerians and garner support for the whistle-blower policy of the Federal government as a tool for fighting corruption.

The whistleblowing policy was introduced in 2016 to check public-sector corruption but is bedeviled by hiccups such as lack of protection for and reprisals against whistle blowers, as well as faithful implementation of the policy.

According to Onumah, the workshop is expected to “Provide guidance on how to protect whistle blowers, methods and strategies for legal defence, as well as procedures to secure protection of whistle-blowers, and also ensure whistle blowers who make public interest disclosures are legally supported and protected  from adverse consequences.”

He said the ultimate goal of the workshop is to facilitate and create a network of lawyers on whistle-blower protection.

Dayo Olaide, Deputy Director, Africa Office of MacArthur Foundation, said while Nigerians need to do their bit by exposing corruption, lawyers need to equally show the zeal and honesty in handling corruption cases, especially, high-profile ones.

He said there is an urgent need to tackle corruption, as “somebody somewhere is paying for every money stolen by corrupt individuals”.

To describe the pervasiveness of corruption in the country, he cited a recent report which revealed that Nigeria is losing 10 percent of her GDP to corruption. He said if nothing is doneby 2030, Nigeria will be losing 30 percent of her GDP to corruption.

The Lead facilitator at the workshop, Abdul Mahmud, said it is unfortunate that lawyers have not been active in the fight against corruption, adding that this can be largely attributed to poor welfare.

He urged lawyers to take up the challenge and begin to research on how to make the whistleblower policy work, so as to help reduce corruption in the society.

Participants said the workshop has deepened their insight on issues surrounding the policy.

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