The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has a very straightforward job — catch and prosecute people that commit economic and financial crimes. It’s in the name. Sometimes, EFCC agents do succeed in doing their job of arresting real criminals.
But the EFCC cannot do its job alone. It’s kind of hard to be everywhere at once to stamp out corruption in a country of over 200 million people. So the Buhari administration launched the whistleblowing programme in 2016.
What’s this whistleblowing about?
It’s about whistles, sort of.
The Holy Book says, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” but the Nigerian government says, “Snitch on your neighbour and we’ll give you a cut.”
The whistleblowing policy encourages Nigerians to provide information to the government whenever they notice a violation of financial regulations. These violations include mismanagement of public funds and assets, bribery, fraud and theft.
Whistleblowers are encouraged to report as much as they know to help authorities investigate and build cases against suspects. To sweeten the deal, a whistleblower is entitled to between 2.5% and 5% of the amount recovered from the person they snitch on. This means a whistleblower that provides significant information that leads to the recovery of, say, ₦100 million can potentially walk away with a ₦5 million reward.
The whole point of the whistleblower programme is to expose financial crimes and recover public funds. And it generated some buzz when it first launched. This led to the discovery of $9.8 million from Andrew Yakubu, a former managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and $11 million from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
EFCC wants more whistleblowers
EFCC chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, complained at a town hall meeting on Thursday, June 30th, 2022 that whistles have stopped going off. He said the flow of critical intelligence to Nigerian law enforcement agencies has taken a drastic fall and needs to be re-energised. Informants have stopped informing because of challenges that have plagued the whistleblower programme.
Why have Nigerians stopped snitching?
Bawa provided a few reasons why he believes the whistleblower programme has suffered over the years since its launch. One of the most pressing is that ordinary Nigerians lack adequate understanding of the legal and administrative process of the programme. Snitches want their rewards, but the process to get the bag isn’t always as smooth as they imagine.
Whistleblowers have publicly fought the government many times over the non-payment of their reward and Bawa thinks this is a factor. Who wants to snitch on their neighbour and not at least get paid for it?
Bawa also fears that the EFCC’s decision to drag some fake whistleblowers to court for lying may have discouraged more genuine ones from coming forward. The eagerness to get some reward may have possibly encouraged false snitching that wasted the EFCC’s time.
How to snitch for the government
The Federal Government’s whistleblowing programme is an attempt to partner with citizens to expose corrupt acts. If you know public officers stealing public wealth or receiving bribes, or companies evading taxes or committing other kinds of fraud, then you’re a potential whistleblower. All you need to do is gather as much evidence as you can that can help the authorities.
As long as whistleblowers raise concerns in good faith, they can be of great help to rid the country of corruption. Even better, whistleblowers can make their reports on an online portal and remain anonymous. A whistleblower can expect to be paid only after their tip-off leads to the successful recovery of funds tied to corruption.
See something, say something, bag something.