The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill has been passed by the Senate.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) was passed on Wednesday after a third reading. It scaled second reading on Oct. 19, 2016.
Presenting report on the bill before its passage, Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matter, Sen. David Umaru, said a thorough job was done to ensure that the bill stood the test of time.
He said that the bill would facilitate and encourage the disclosure of improper conduct by persons, public officers and corporate bodies, private and public.
He also said that the bill, when passed, would ensure that matters disclosed were properly investigated and handled appropriately in accordance with the law.
The chairman further said the bill would ensure adequate protection of whistle blowers from reprisals, victimisation, isolation and humiliation, which were some of the consequences of whistle-blowing.
“This legal framework also contemplates financial reward for any disclosure that leads to discovery and recovery of funds, properties and so on, so as to serve as incentive to potential whistleblowers.
“On the whole, this mechanism is a recognised concept which has been adopted by many countries of the world and it has helped in the fight against corruption.
“Further inputs that were not contemplated in the bill were included as we carried an extensive research to ensure that it met international best practice that will enable it stand the test of time,’’ he said.
After presentation of the report, the lawmakers subjected the bill to clause-by-clause consideration, and it was subsequently approved through a unanimous voice vote.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, commended the lawmakers for their dedication to ensuring that the bill scaled third reading.
He said that passage of the bill was one of the efforts of the National Assembly to ensure that the fight against corruption was won in the country.
He said, “a landmark has been made today and this will definitely help patriotic individuals who risk their lives in the fight against corruption.
“This law will be able to protect them and encourage others. This is part of our commitment to supporting the government in the fight against corruption.’’
Briefing newsmen after plenary, Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Sen. David Umaru, said that the bill prescribed three years imprisonment for false disclosure by any whistle blower.
He said that as much the bill sought protection for whistle blowers, it also prescribed punishment to check abuse.
”The whistle blowers bill as much as it tends to protect persons who have information to disclose to the appropriate authority, it goes along with certain responsibilities, which actually includes punishment for false disclosure.
”One of such is that anybody who makes a false disclosure is liable upon conviction to three years imprisonment with a fine of N1 million.
“Anybody who conceals information, that is if an investigator conceals an information of an improper conduct, upon conviction, is liable to two years imprisonment without any option of fine.
“Most importantly, where recoveries are made and there is failure to disclose to the appropriate authority either the quantum or any amount recovered, carries punishment of five years imprisonment without any option of fine,” Umaru said.
He added that any person who obstructed an investigator also had punishment.
“ He will be liable to on conviction to payment of N100, 000 or one year imprisonment.
“So basically, these are some of the implications of not doing as the law has provided while whistle-blowing,” he said. (NAN)