By Racheal Ishaya
The Federal Ministry of Finance says N375.8 million has been paid to 20 providers of information under the Whistleblower Policy.
The Director of Information, Mr Salisu Dambatta in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said that payment was related to the recovery of N11.6 billion.
Dambatta explained that the payment was only for recovered assets that had been declared free of legal disputes or litigation by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He said that in addition, taxes have been removed before final payments to beneficiaries.
“This payment, which is the first under the Whistleblower Policy, underscores the commitment of the President Muhmmadu Buhari-led administration in meeting obligations to information providers under the Whistleblower Policy.
“The policy is an essential tool in the fight against corruption.
“The Ministry, therefore encourages all Nigerians with information on misconduct, violation or improper activity which can impact negatively on Nigeria to report it to the appropriate authority,” he said.
Dambatta said the Whistleblower Policy was recently amended to include the introduction of a formal legal agreement between information providers and the Federal Government.
He said the agreement had already been executed by the Minister of Justice.
He said the amendment was introduced to ensure the protection of the identity of information providers during the payment process.
However, Dambatta declined to revealed the specific recoveries for which the monies were being paid saying that “it may endanger the whistleblowers”.
The Whistleblower Unit (WBU) is a multi-agency team, resident in Federal Ministry of Finance Headquarters.
It is staffed by secondees from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Department of State Services (DSS).
Also, the Nigeria Police Force and Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) form part of the unit.
The Unit is the first line of response to whistleblower information, where initial review is undertaken before cases are forwarded to the relevant investigative agencies.
So far, the unit have received 2, 150 communications and 337 tips through its dedicated channels from many patriotic Nigerians, which led to the recovery of substantial assets that were illegally acquired by various individuals.
The primary purpose of the Policy is to support the fight against financial crimes and corruption, promote accountability and enhance transparency in the management of public finances.