In the fight against corruption, Nigerian government has adopted a Whistleblowing Policy (Policy). With the aid of primary and mainly secondary sources distilled from different libraries, including e-libraries and the internet, this research explores the incentives and disincentives associated with the Policy, and concludes that the disincentives which tend to outweigh the incentives will potentially discourage potential whistleblowers. It therefore recommends that factors which are likely disincentives to whistleblowing, and possibly a clog to achieving the goal of the Policy be taken into consideration in the Whistleblowers Protection Bill which has been passed but yet to be assented to.
Keywords: Corruption, Nigeria, Whistleblowing Policy.
Corruption is a trans-historical phenomenon. It is ubiquitous, and tends to affect governments at all level of development. Nonetheless, while some countries may be seen to be improving their corruption perception index through enactments of relevant laws and strategic implementations, some other countries’ indices are on a steady decline as a result of massive and pervasive public sector corruption.
Corruption has no universally shared definition, but the definition used by the World Bank is ‘the abuse of public office for private gain’. However, the definition by the Transparency International (TI) as ‘the misuse of entrusted power for private gain’, will be adopted because it covers all forms of corrupt practices regarding public funds irrespective of whether it is in private or public office, which is the primary focus of this article.
Corruption may take several forms, including bribery, theft, embezzlement, extortion or different fraudulent activities such as bloated government contracts, listing ghost workers, establishing fake companies etc. Beyond these commonly associated corrupt activities are also other corrupt activities like favouritism, nepotism and clientelism. Morris argues that in describing the forms of corruption, where the focus is on the corrupt actors, it is best described as political or administrative corruptionand this occurs where government officials abuse their powers, roles, or resources found within the public service.
Corruption thrives on factors, generally consisting of a mixture of attitudes, situations and processes that are better understood as facilitators. These factors are summarily divided into bureaucratic factors, political institutional factors, economic and demographic factors, and geographical and cultural factors. For instance, the growth of international business and trade has created situations for the payment of bribes, often referred to as commissions. Just as widespread illiteracy, greed, vast size of population, poor infrastructure and low salaries may create wrong attitudes for the value system and ethics which may lead to election malpractices and lack of intense outcry by the public against corruption.
The effects of corruption are readily apparent in any economy and polity. They are often severe and include misallocation of resources, distortion of labour markets and decisions on public sector projects, thereby inhibiting investment in the economy, as well as lowering levels of economic growth and development. Corruption may result in armed conflict, financial crisis, crime and poverty, human rights abuses, and prostitution. Curiously, some writers tend to suggest that corruption has some value in promoting efficiency and even growth by greasing the process and removing rigidities imposed by government which may impede investment or interfere with economic decisions favourable to growth. For instance, Indonesia and Thailand are reported as countries growing due to their high levels of corruption relating to a low degree of uncertainty.
Unfortunately, these seemingly benefits of corruption ‘creates incentives for more and higher bribes in previously bribe-free activities.’ Moreover, it redirects ‘attention from providing services to the public to maximizing illicit incomes’. No doubt, corruption is a problem, which in recognition of this, most international and non-governmental organisations have stepped up corruption reduction initiatives. Many national governments are strengthening institutions, establishing special anti-corruption agencies, and passing several laws to monitor and punish corrupt officials. For instance, the notorious financial scandals of Worldcom and Enron prompted the passing of the United States (US)’s Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX Act), which applies to all companies, whether US company or not, registered with their Security and Exchange Commission. Another important strategy many different economies are now adopting is the use of whistleblowing programme. Interestingly, whistleblowers are reported to be key triggers for successful investigations of corrupt practices, for without an insider information, corruption often thrive undetected. The next section will explore the concept of whistleblowing.
The concept of whistleblowing has long existed, and like corruption, it has no universally accepted definition. It originated in the United States, and is generally used for any disclosure about unethical or corrupt acts. That is, an act of someone who, believing that the public interest overrides other interests he serves, blows the whistle that someone or an organization is involved in an illegal, fraudulent, corrupt or harmful activity. This alleged misconduct may be ‘a violation of a regulation, law or direct threat to the public interest such as health /safety violation, fraud and corruption.’ Whistleblowing procedures promotes ‘a communications culture and the practical benefit of facilitating the early rectification of wrongdoing’. Whistleblowing may be differentiated from other related activities like raising a grievance, making a complaint or insider trading. Unlike the first two activities, the whistleblower reports matters that are of public interest rather than personal concerns, and for an insider trading, the whistleblower speaks rather than trade the information.
There are generally two types of whistleblowing: internal and external. Internal whistleblowing occurs where the recipient of the report of wrongdoing is the higher management in the organisation. Whereas, it is external if the whistleblower irrespective of whoever, decides to go public, and this often occur where no channel of reporting exists or the whistleblower is not comfortable or confident to use the internal channel or there has been delays or lack of response to concerns raised. Whatever channel the whistleblower decides to take, it is necessary that the whistleblower is accorded some form of protection. This is because whistleblowers often face dangers  such as retaliation against the whistleblower, in form of loss of job, forced retirement, and even death. In addition, there is an ethical dilemma in the act of whistleblowing.
This dilemma usually arises where a whistleblower who witnesses infractions against public interest is constrained not to disclose such wrong doing due to the existence of confidentiality agreements or policies, or fear of facing disciplinary actions and retaliations. However, Rachagan and Kuppusamy have rightly opined that, loyalty cannot imply that the unethical conduct of others, especially those prejudicial to the safety of the public should not be reported. Thus, for these anticipated risks, many conventions on corruption require State parties to employ all available mechanism to encourage whistleblowers by discouraging retaliation and protecting whistleblowers. Such mechanism includes a comprehensive and clear legislation, incentives, clear remedies and sanctions etc.
2.THE PROBLEM OF CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA.
Corruption is one of Nigeria’s biggest challenge, and is reported by analysts to be the cause of poor economic development in the country. The notoriety probably led the British former Prime Minister, David Cameron to describe Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt,’ and this also explains the consistent poorly ranking of Nigeria by the TI’s corruption perception index over many years. For instance, in 2018 Nigeria was placed 148th on the corruption ranking of 180 countries, with a score of 28%. However, in discussing the problem of corruption in Nigeria, this section takes a descriptive analysis and focuses on the various subtle and disturbing forms which corruption manifest, the multiple causes, the rippling effects, and the various anti-corruption strategies employed so far by successive governments.
2.1- Forms of Corruption.
Corruption in Nigeria is systemic, and as Ukwaba noted that, corruption can be said to be systemic where ‘major private and individual institutions and processes of State are routinely dominated and used by corrupt individuals and groups, and in which, most people have no alternatives in dealing with the problem’. Corruption seems to have become official and well instituted in Nigeria being so entrenched in the system that any person hoping to have any form of business transactions with public service bureaucracy should, sadly, take that into consideration.
Corruption has bedevilled even the political sphere featuring abuses by government officials through bribery, embezzlement, and other fraudulent activities such as rigging elections, inflation of government contracts, falsifications of accounts, supply of substandard goods, foreign exchange hoarding, swindling, and smuggling etc. In addition, especially manifest in public offices, are payment of ghost workers, paying heavily to secure government jobs, spoliation of documents, and diversion of workers’ salaries and allowances for personal use. It is quite disheartening that one will have to bribe for virtually every service sought for. For example, to renew one’s Nigerian passport as a citizen, you need to bribe one of the officers in charge to prevent your file from being kept in view ad infinitum. Notwithstanding the fact that almost every government office has a Service Compact with All Nigerians (SERVICOM) unit which ought to ensure that public offices deliver efficient, timely and transparent services.
Regrettably, key public agencies are inclusive in Nigeria’s malady. For instance, despite the military’s decried detest for corruption by the civilian regime, they have been found to be involved in scandals bordering on arms procurement deals, which reportedly have weakened every effort to battle Islamist fundamentalist insurgency of Boko Haran. The police extort money from the masses on suppose road check-points, and even aid criminals with small and light arms. Custom officers confiscate goods for their usage, and those in the temple of justice conscientiously pervert justice. Corruption also manifests in the private sector. For instance, in the banking sector corporate corruption exists, with all manner of vices employed to exploit excessive gains. Also, private individuals and companies aid in laundering the proceeds of corruption. 
2.2- Causes of Corruption.
Generally, corruption in Nigeria is caused by a combination of several factors. Firstly, political offices are viewed as a means of gaining access to wealth. Thus, unpopular candidates get rigged into various offices by their god-fathers, against the will of the masses. Again, costly election campaigns which surpasses the normal sources of funding impel successful candidate, upon assuming office to recoup their election expenses. Hence, the award of bloated contracts to close allies and family members, and engaging in all manner of corrupt activities out of their desperate need to amass funds to rig more elections. These election malpractices and lack of due processes in public offices are made possible due to weak government institutions, electoral commissions, and law enforcement mechanism.
Another major cause of corruption is the love for easy wealth while losing appetite for hard work. Many Nigerians seem to live above their legitimate income, without any clear explanation for all the luxurious mansions and expensive luxury cars they own. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, conspicuous consumption and flamboyant affluence are one of the indices for good life, and this has led many Nigerians into dubious activities including ritual murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, theft, and all manner of trafficking. For instance, the notorious case of Clement Duru (alias Otokoto) who owned and used his hotel to kill and sell human parts of some of the travellers that lodged in the hotel. Also recently, billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudi Onwuamadi (alias Evans), who was reported to have kidnapped over 200 victims with ransom paid in foreign currency was arrested by the Nigerian police. Sadly, many Nigerians are now preoccupied with how to share in the so-called national cake, abandoning agriculture, the former mainstay of the country’s economy.
Again, lack of ethical standards in private and public sectors have increased corrupt activities. Many officeholders, including other employees do not have a clear conception of the ethical demands of their position. Those who are appointed to fight corruption are also found as culprits in the very problem they are fighting. For instance, the former Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Larmode was accused of diverting proceeds recovered by the agency to his personal use. There are also reports of State Governors opening numerous accounts with different names with the aim of siphoning money. Again, the lukewarm attitude on the part of those who are to enforce the laws of the land has also led many to engage in corrupt activities believing that they would get away with it. For instance, the many revelations of embezzlements of public funds by panels of inquiry set up by different administrations are still actively covered up. Till today, nothing was done concerning the Pius Okigbo’s panel of inquiry’s revelations that 12. 4 billion dollars of Nigeria’s revenue from crude petroleum was diverted into accounts owed by the former military President, General Babangida.
Finally, institutional, and cultural factors like nepotism, ethnicity and favouritism have also fuelled corruption. In Nigeria, allegiance to ethnic interests is often considered more important to national interest, and this reduces fair representation and accountability in policy making. Thus, activities like appointments and recruitments which should respect the federal character principle are often compromised due to these factors. Other causes of corruption include unemployment, poor reward system, greed, poor education and illiteracy, poverty, and indirect acceptance by the populace by honouring individuals who were associated with crimes or even convicted, with titles and awards. Indeed, ‘Thieves are owned in Nigeria.’ A good example is a former Governor of Delta State, Nigeria, James Ibori, who was accused and convicted of corruption in the UK. Upon serving his jail term in the UK, he returned to Nigeria to a rousing and hero’s welcome by his kinsmen. It is imperative to note that a Nigerian court has earlier acquitted him of corruption charges. This sends the wrong signals to the public and may play a large role in the public perception of corruption.
2.3- Cumulative Consequences of Corruption.
The effects of corruption in Nigeria can never be overemphasised. It causes diversion of public resources and distorted priorities of public policies. Government divert public expenditure from sectors that really need it to projects where kickbacks will be readily available for public officials. Corruption perpetuates political, economic, and social inequality as the poor often pay portion of their income as bribes and this aggravates mass poverty leading to retarded economic growth. Moyosore observed that, ‘the misappropriation and mismanagement of public resources by successive regimes, has rendered millions of Nigerians poor, unemployed and uneducated.’Commenting on the effects of corruption in Nigeria, Ejikeme stated that ‘the menace of corruption leads to slow movement of files in offices, police extortion, tollgates on highways, port congestion, queues at passport offices and petrol stations, ghost workers syndrome, election irregularities among others’.
Indeed, the effect of corruption particularly in the public service has been pernicious, and has caused bad image for the public sector. It has resulted in delays and reduced quality of public service, as many government workers wait to be tipped (bribed) before providing services. Consequently, this has increased bureaucracy and has made dealing with the government very unattractive. Corruption impacts negatively on human rights of citizens, and the effective mobilisation and management of resources as many Nigerians who feel frustrated with the system tend to leave the country for greener pastures. Again, corruption has caused low investment by discouraging many foreign investments and donors, and for those who risk investing, they are faced with unpredictable government policies.
The ruling class cabals have taught a disheartening lesson to the public, that being law abiding and honest does not pay because crime culprits walk away without being punished. Hence, those who have learnt this lesson replicate these corrupt practices at their lowly levels in the form of petty acts of peculation, bribery, and embezzlement of public funds. Resources earmarked for building and maintaining public institutions are diverted to private use or substandard services provided. Thereby subverting these institutions and making them less efficient or even completely handicapped in carrying out assigned tasks. These in turn endangers the lives and properties of citizens whom these public institutions are meant to serve. Most government schools and hospitals lack facilities, and this explains why thousands of Nigerians travel abroad every year for study and medical treatment respectively. Ironically, Nigerian who illegally divert these funds rarely patronise hospitals in Nigeria. Hence, it is not surprising that most of our leaders rush to the foreign land for the slightest medical issues.
Further, corruption is responsible for many deaths and causing many people so much pain as money meant for the provisions of social amenities and other developments are diverted for private use. The government owe workers several months arrears of salary, and this has resulted in incessant strike actions in government parastatals and ministries and higher institution of learning, with many undergraduates waiting extra years to graduate.
Again, corruption lowers the quality of standards of compliance with environmental, construction, and other regulations. This offers reasons for the spates of buildings collapse in Nigeria. On 12 September 2014, a building belonging to Prophet T Joshua collapsed killing about 115 worshippers. Preliminary enquiries showed that there was no strict compliance with construction standards and earlier approval from the relevant authority. The same fate was suffered by a church, Reigners Bible Church, in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, on 10 December 2016 where about 27 worshippers lost their lives and many more such cases which most times are covered up by the government officials themselves to protect the owners of the collapsed buildings. Also, in November 2018, seven-storey building reportedly collapsed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, leaving many dead and many injured.
2.4- War Against Corruption in Nigeria.
Many strategies have been adopted to curb corruption and to reform national and individual ethics and values. For example, the General Obasanjo’s Jaji declaration aimed at taking on a new spirit of service, President Shehu Shagari’s ethical revolution in 1981, General Buhari’s War Against Indiscipline and Corruption in 1985,General Babangida’s national reorientation programmes and late President Yar’adua’s Due Process Policy. Under the President Jonathan’s government, a Special Adviser on National ethics and value was appointed, and the slogan ‘good people, great nation’ was launched. Subsequently, specialised anti- corruption agencies have been established and anti-corruption laws passed. Above all, the Nigerian Constitution and most of the professional and institutional regulatory bodies recognise the place and role of ethics in our national and individual lives. Despite all these noble strides, corruption has reportedly remained ever increasing in Nigeria, and seems to have ‘defiled all solutions’.
Happily, though, a new wave of hope came with the coming into power of the present Nigerian government led by President Muhammadu Buhari who made fighting corruption the main thrust of his administration. Curiously, the four times President Buhari contested for the office of the president, he promised Nigerians that he will tackle corruption if elected. True to his words, on assumption of office, he launched the ‘change begins with me’ campaign. The essence was to emphasize the place of the Nigerian citizens in addressing the state of decadence in the society and accordingly, enthroning the positive change the country craves. The President also placed anti-corruption war as his topmost priority, and this earned him applause and pledges of support from different foreign government like the US and the UK. Although the Buhari’s led-administration has been accused and criticised for a selective war against corruption, his government has insisted on their commitment to fighting corruption. Thus, in the later part of 2016, the Federal Executive Council announced the adoption of the Whistle blowing Policy. The next section focuses on the Policy, its purpose, application, and incentives.
3.NIGERIA’S WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY (Policy).
The Policy is a 5-page document which regulates whistleblowing in corruption cases in Nigeria. It outlines the nature of information involved, avenues of reporting, incentives, aims and objectives of the Policy, and it is found on the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF)’s website. This section will explain the purpose and the scope of the Policy, and then explore available incentives to whistleblowing in Nigeria.
3.1- Purpose and Application of the Policy.
This policy is designed to encourage members of the public to support the fight against corruption by exposing financial or finance related crimes, to improve confidence, transparency, and accountability in both private and public activities. It aims to improve Nigeria’s open government ranking and ease of doing business indicators, and the recovery of public funds that can be deployed to finance Nigeria’s infrastructure. The policy does not have restrictions regarding the organisations targeted or does it exclude certain persons from both protection and incentives as long as the whistleblower meets the conditions set out under the Policy. For instance, the whistleblowing must disclose one or such several categories of wrongdoing covered by the Policy. These categories are information relating to management of public funds & assets, financial malpractices, solicitation of bribes, diversion of revenues, fraudulent and unapproved payments, splitting of contracts, and all forms of corruption. However, private matters concerning private contracts or agreements are excluded. 
3.2- Incentives for Potential Whistleblowers.
3.2.1- Opportunity to Make a Positive Change
The Policy offers opportunity to any Nigerian who understands the numerous advantages of a corrupt-free society, as it aims to team with well-meaning Nigerians in the fight against corruption. At times, people may desire to expose illegal activities but find it difficult to, due to situations they find themselves. They may be faced with an unappealing circumstance of either covering an illegal act and potentially harming the public, or expose the illegal act and face the fear of rejection based on betrayal. However, for whatever reason, they may find themselves more tilted towards exposing the wrong but feel safer to secretly disclose it. Luckily, the Policy affords such persons, safe channels of reporting illegal activities and serving as agents of changing the current state of moral decadence in the society. This way, a whistleblower gets the satisfaction of helping to check losses, save lives, avert harm, and ultimately safeguard the rule of law. In addition, they have a sense of achievement on remedying a negative course of event and promoting a safer society and the public good.
Further, where whistleblowers utilise this opportunity of creating change by disclosing illegal activities, they expect the government to take appropriate follow-up actions, including prosecuting and convicting offenders. Thus, where the government responds appropriately, it increases the faith of the citizen in the government, thereby encouraging more whistlebowers who desire to make it right to come forward. Although it may be argued that many Nigerians are ambivalent about corruption and its many problems in the country; many have unequivocally condemned it. Hence, the high utilisation of the channel of reporting provided under the Policy which the FMF claimed to have received over 2000 communications and over 300 tips from many patriotic Nigerians, and these have led to the recovery of substantial public assets that were illegally acquired.
3.2.2- Anti-Retaliation Provisions.
The FMF or other regulatory authorities conducts investigations as to the veracity of the information disclosed against any person(s) based on the information forwarded by the whistleblower. The nature of such enquiries may uncover or hint at the identity of the whistleblower, thereby exposing the whistleblower to retaliations. For these reasons, both the UNCAC and the AUCPCC, encourage State Parties to incorporate appropriate legal protection for whistleblowers. Now, regardless of whether concerns raised by the whistleblower is upheld against any party, once the disclosure was made in good faith and in public interest, if the whistleblower suffered adverse treatment in form of harassment, victimisation, or intimidation, he or she may file a formal complaint to the relevant authority stating all relevant details.
The Policy places the burden of disproving retaliation for the disclosure by the whistleblower on the perpetrator. Thus, once a whistleblower establishes a prima facie case of suffering adverse treatment, the FMF may carry out further investigations, institute disciplinary action against the perpetrator, and make restitution to the whistleblower for any loss suffered. The nature of the restitution is unclear as restitution generally connotes that the whistleblower will be restored to status quo ante. That notwithstanding, Rapp has expressed optimism that an appropriate sanction levied against perpetrators will deter reprisals, compensate whistleblowers and increase effective whistleblowing,
3.2.3- Channel of Reporting.
The channel of reporting a wrong as argued by Morberly may be more important than the anti-retaliation provision. The FMF has dedicated a secured online portal through which disclosure can be made and status of the report checked. The online portal is opened to internal stakeholders, inter-government stakeholders, institutional stakeholders, and any person with relevant information. Thus, potential whistleblowers with any documentary evidence or information within the contemplation of the Policy, with specific facts such as who is involved, dates and what occurred, could lodge an entry on the portal. Upon receipt, information provided will be analysed and decision made on whether to open an investigation on the matter. The Policy did not state what happens after investigations are conducted, but a concerted reading of the Policy seems to suggest that investigations which discloses cause of action or prima facies case against the perpetrator will be pursued.
Under the Policy, concerns may be made openly, confidentially, or anonymously. Most potential whistleblowers may be attracted to anonymous reporting because of the very high personal cost they may face for whistleblowing, and the reluctance to sacrifice a steady income over an abstraction like the interest of the public. Again, with recent incidences of kidnapping and assassination in the country, most whistleblowers will opt for anonymity, or probably go for confidential whistleblowing, only to ensure their proper details are kept for their financial rewards. Anonymous reporting has the advantage of causing people to focus on the merits of the message that is being conveyed rather than the possible motives of the discloser. Nevertheless, it has been argued that raising issues openly or confidentially makes the assessment, understanding and investigation of the issue easier, and the whistleblower better protected. Again, that, anonymity tend to reduce the credibility of the whistleblower, making it unfair to the perpetrator, who is denied the identity of those who accuse him and the opportunity to answer them.  However, whichever argument is adopted, it is only reasonable that reporting anonymously should be preferred rather than remaining silent.
3.2.4- Financial Incentives.
Like the US’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act), the Policy promises the whistleblower who has met all requirements a reward of between 2.5 and 5 percent of any voluntarily returned funds. This financial reward is essentially to encourage the attitude of disclosing illegal activities, and considering the high levels of extreme poverty in Nigeria, this financial reward seems the most appealing part of the Policy. Interestingly, some Nigerians may have embraced the act of whistleblowing as an alternative source of income. This is likely as the Nigerian government claimed recently that the provision of incentives for whistleblower’s divulgement of vital information has been effective in countering fraud and easing the restoration of millions to government Treasury.
On the contrary, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) posit that financial incentives do not necessarily encourage whistleblowing. In fact, that it rather undermines the effective internal whistleblowing mechanisms, and leads to unethical behaviour like malicious reporting, entrapment etc. They argue that financial incentives may be wrongly perceived by the public as paying a person for fulfilling a public duty, and even tend to prevent the report of petty crimes when a financially motived whistleblower believes that the reward might be little. Again, that financial incentives potentially attract complex and costly government structures, and merely increases the quantity and not the quality of information received by relevant authorities. In other words, financial incentives reduce the level of caution that would have been exercised by potential whistleblowers and create more opportunity for unverified information, and this potentially redirects the primary focus of patriotism to personal aggrandisement. Fortunately, this situation may not arise or may be curtailed, as a whistleblower who makes false or malicious disclosure may face prosecution unless the whistleblower reasonably believes, as at the time of disclosing the information, that he believed same to be true and made in public spirit and good faith. Having laid out the different incentives to the Policy, the next section will explore possible disincentives to the Policy.
4.DISINCENTIVES TO WHISTLEBLOWING IN NIGERIA.
Generally, it is often emotionally, professionally, and otherwise, difficult to blow the whistle on ‘one’s employer, colleagues, or friends’. Whistleblowing is a venture fraught with risks and dangers, with severe possible threats to safety, especially in Nigeria ‘where corruption is deeply entrenched and impunity has been the norm’. Whistleblowers, like anti-corruption activists and journalists face threats and risks of being kidnapped or assassinated for exposing corruption. Thus, notwithstanding the incentives above, there are several counterincentives that can discourage potential whistleblowers. The following section explores and interrogates possible disincentives to the achievement of the aims and objectives of the Policy.
4.1- Ethical Issues.
Several ethical questions may be of concern to potential whistleblowers. Firstly, the Policy is silent as to what happens where the FMF fails or refuses to pay the percentage of reward promised. It is not clear the mechanisms put in place to compel the government to pay the reward due in the unfortunate event that the government refuses or fails to pay. Obviously, the Policy does not envisage such situations or probably it just expects Nigerians to believe and trust the government. Even with the recent payment of first sets of whistleblowers by the FMF, many Nigerians may still be sceptical about its continuity. This is due to the several unfulfilled promises of providing basic amenities, compromising public security in complete disregard to lives and properties, and arbitrarily diverting public funds not minding the abject state of poverty most of its citizens find themselves. Many Nigerians may likely be discouraged to blow the whistle based on these precedents and reluctant to start exploring means of getting their reward.
Secondly, most, if not every government that came into power in Nigerian has displayed utmost disregard for predecessor’s policies and guidelines. Successive Nigerian governments seem to have a problem with continuity. Each government finds pleasure in discrediting predecessors, and this has accounted for millions of abandoned multi trillion-dollar projects which would have benefitted the masses. Many Nigerian roads, electricity projects, steel industries, dams, markets, schools awarded to contractors for either constructions or rehabilitation are abandoned, and the same contracts awarded, are re-awarded by the next government. No one seems to have explanation as to what happened to the already approved and disbursed project funds.
Further, the use of information disclosed may be a concern to whistleblowers. Some potential whistleblowers may not be forthcoming because of the very low probability of perpetrators being punished or the funds recovered being properly utilised. Many have raised concern about the government’s speedy prosecution of some few targeted persons while wearying out Nigerians with protracted investigations of government allies. Again, whistleblowers may also be sceptical to whistleblow where there are no means of ensuring that information given are not suppressed or used to the private benefit of the government officials collating the information. Also, with the high rate of corruption and very low ethical culture in the country, it is not unlikely that anti-corruption officials may compromise the identity of whistleblowers, especially with allegations of corruption against some of the heads of such anti-corruption agencies.
4.2- Legal Issues.
A government policy, such as the Policy outlines what a government ministry hopes to achieve and the principles and methods it will use in achieving them. Unlike a law which often require two-third majority of members of a legislative body to repeal, a policy can be reversed by mere statement of any administration. Where there is an infraction of the law, those responsible for breaking them can be prosecuted in court, but what happens where a policy is broken? Unfortunately, a policy lacks statutory backing, and this raises several concerns. There is no law to define the framework of the Policy and to address other pertinent issues like the right of a person whose property was raided and destroyed based on false information advanced by a whistleblower who reasonably believed the information to be true.
Again, where the government fails to pay the reward as envisaged under ethical issues, does this failure vest in a whistleblower a right to claim the reward, or claim redress in the event of any victimisation? It may be argued that a whistleblower may sue because a unilateral contract is created once the whistleblower fulfils his or her own part by providing information used in the recovery of looted fund. In FGN v Zebra Energy Ltd, Mohammed SCJ held that, ‘Unilateral contract is accepted on commencement of performance, even though completion of performance is a condition precedent to the offeror’s liability to perform his promise’.
Interestingly, the FMF recently amended the Policy, and introduced a formal legal agreement between whistleblowers and the Federal Government, which is executed by the Attorney General of Federation (Minister of Justice). This automatically creates a contract between a whistleblower and the federal government, but not a third party based on the doctrine of privity of contract. Again, in Max-Clean Becal Ventures ltd v Abuja Environmental Protection Board, the CA reiterated that, ‘Parties are bound by their agreement.’ These cases thus show that a whistleblower can claim incentives offered by the Policy. Additionally, the reliability of the evidence of a whistleblower by the court of law may also be doubtful in view of the financial gain the whistleblower stands to gain. This may affect the probative value of such evidence.
4.3- Personal Losses and Liability.
Even with the anti-retaliation provision in the Policy providing for a restitutionary relief, a whistleblower who exposes illegal activities, especially major fraud may suffer personal losses, including dismissal from work. Like the case of the former CBN Governor, a director with the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), was dismissed by the Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs for reporting fraud within the directorate. Commendably though, the federal government of Nigeria has been making efforts in reinstating whistleblowers who have suffered dismissal, especially in government offices. For instance, Mr Thompson, an assistant director in one of the federal government parastatals who was sacked for exposing fraud was recently recalled by the government.
Further, the fear of being ostracised from social groups may discourage whistleblowing. Ostracism may range from giving the whistleblower cold shoulders to full blown rejection, and this can pose a psychological challenge to the whistleblower. Whistleblowers may also suffer blacklisting in form of negative employment references, and may be concerned as to violations of any fiduciary duties or confidential contractual agreements with the employer. This does not seem to pose a problem if the information disclosed falls within the categories envisaged under the Policy. It is unlikely that the court will award damages against a whistleblower who discloses fraud.
4.4- Financial Reward.
Although the Policy has somewhat provided adequate financial reward for potential whistleblowers, the conditions a whistleblower must fulfil before qualifying for the reward seems stringent. Firstly, the whistleblower must provide the government with information it does not already have and could not have obtained from any other publicly available source. The actual recovery of illegal funds must also be based on the information the whistleblower discloses. In other words, financial reward is dependent on the importance of the information advanced to the investigation leading to the recovery of funds. Who then determines the relevancy of the information, or put in another way, what remedy is open to a whistleblower who believes that he has offered a vital information which the relevant government agency considers as inadequate. Again, the phrase, ‘any other publicly available source to the government’ could discourage potential whistleblowers who may believe that the information they are about to disclose may already be available to the government.
Importantly, unlike in the US, where the actual amount of a whistleblower’s award is ascertainable, and the decisions of the regulatory authority is made subject to judicial review, the Policy’s financial reward is unclear. It merely states the reward to be between 2.5 and 5 percent, and these financial incentives are paid at the discretion of the FMF. There is neither certainty of amount due to the whistleblower nor any judicial review of the FMF’s decisions, and uncertainty may create room for abuse by the relevant government agency. Again, since the financial reward is paid from voluntarily returned funds, this means that a whistleblower will not receive a reward out of funds forfeited to the government after a conviction. This will likely discourage some potential whistleblowers.
4.5- Anonymity and Protection from Victimisation.
A whistleblower that is unsure how his or her identity will remain confidential within the regulatory or investigating authority, or does not have the assurance of remaining anonymous may be reluctant to whistleblow. Thus, apart from the identity being compromised, the checks in place to ensure the security of information fed into the whistleblowing portal may be a concern for a potential whistleblower, particularly with the absolute incessant attempts by internet hackers. In 2015, there were reports that several Philippine government websites were subjected to all forms of cyberattacks following the release of a ruling on an arbitration case filed by Philippines against China. This shows that the FMF portal for whistleblowers can be target of hacking by perpetrators. However, with the recent introduction of some procedures by the FMF to protect the identity of whistleblowers, especially during payment process as Ujah claimed. it is hoped that the security of the portal will be ensured.
Ironically, a whistleblower who is denied reward or has his reward unduly delayed may be faced with a dilemma. Such whistleblower would be reluctant to pursue his case in the law court against the government for reasons of confidentiality since doing so would expose his identity. This grim situation is no less different where the whistleblower decides to escalate the non-compliance through other means such as the media; the anonymous nature of the stealth transaction will still be compromised or threatened, ultimately exposing the whistleblower to an even higher risk of possible retaliation. Further, instances where a court order may require a disclosure of certain information which discloses or hint at the whistleblower’s identity may not augur well with a whistleblower. However, this may not be a justified concern because, ideally a court of law should take full consideration of all issues pending before it before granting such an order.
Furthermore, it is not certain how whistleblowers who may face victimisation leading to dismissal in private organisations will fit into the anti-victimisation plan. It tends to be easier for the government to mandate the reinstatement of a government employee, but one wonders if such power can be exercised in respect to private organisations. The government will unlikely force an employee on an unwilling employer, and even when the private organisation decides to reinstate a whistleblower who was dismissed from work, the new work environment may not be conducive again for the employee. Also, potential whistleblowers might discount anti-retaliation protection based on the difficulty in proving subtle forms of retaliation and the low probability of having a successful anti-retaliation claim.
4.6- Data Protection Issues.
The Data Protection principles are important in the use of whistleblowing procedures as they may impinge upon whistleblowing policies and procedures because whistleblowing schemes mainly involve the disclosure, collection, registration, storage, or destruction of data related to an identifiable person. Apart from section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees the ‘privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, and telegraphic communications’ there is no comprehensive data protection law in Nigeria. However, there are a few ‘industry-specific and targeted laws and regulations’ providing additional privacy related protections. The most prominent is the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Guidelines which prescribes the ‘minimum data protection requirements for the collection, storage, processing, management, operation, and technical controls for information.’ Others are the Nigerian Communications Commission Regulations(NCCR), Child Rights Act 2003 (CRA), Freedom of Information Act 2011 (FOI) etc.
Thus, as whistleblowing procedures rely on the processing of personal data, it follows, according to Abdulrauf and Fombad that:
[P]ersonal data must be processed fairly and lawfully; they must be collected for specified, explicit and legitimate reasons and not be used for incompatible purposes. Additionally, the processed data must be relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are collected and/or further processed… Whatever the scope of the whistleblowing procedure, the personal data processed must be limited to that which is strictly and objectively necessary to verify the allegations made. It is also recommended that complaint reports should be kept separate from other personal data.
Since most Whistleblowers’ Laws provides immunity from liability if the disclosure is based on the reasonable belief that the information is true, it has been argued that the alleged perpetrator should enjoy the same rights in relation to the processing of personal data.
- There is need to adopt a proactive and preventive measure targeted at enhancing public engagement and transparency, establishing standards, and reducing opportunities for corrupt practices in high prone activities such as public procurement and the judiciary.
- With the current state of Nigeria’s polity, Nigerians must introduce hygiene in their polity, with election campaigns financed with clean money, and only men and women of integrity elected in public offices. Again, Nigerians must interrogate their ethical education curriculum, and openly condemn those unethical conducts that have been condoned privately or publicly. Thus, the three organs of government, including all well-meaning Nigerians should support and be part of the fight against corruption. The legislators must make up-to-date laws, the executive must ensure their effective & efficient implementations and sustainability, the judiciary must dispense justice without fear or favour. There must be zero tolerance for any form of corruption from the top government officials to the lowest level public officers.
- The federal government should as much as possible employ mechanisms that will mitigate the risks faced by whistleblowers, and also ensure all risks are balanced with adequate incentives especially, in respect to their financial rewards, compensations for losses, protection, and confidence in successful investigations and prosecutions.
- As was noted earlier, the Policy is a scanty document with many issues left unaddressed or ambiguous. The Policy document should be made more comprehensive, user friendly especially in Nigeria where there is high rate of illiteracy, be circulated among all government offices.
- This government must ensure the sustenance and continuity of the effective implementation of the Policy. However, there is no better way of ensuring this than having a Whistleblowing Act. This Act will address most issues raised as disincentives to the Policy. The need for a legal framework can never be over-emphasized. A country’s legal system plays a key role in creating necessary awareness by authoritatively articulating undesirable behaviours or conducts, with their consequential penalties. Thus, while the Policy is for the interim and serving a useful purpose, there is need for the Bill to be assented to.
The success of the fight against corruption in Nigeria should be the concerted efforts of both the Nigerian citizens and the government, and this is the basis for the Policy – a people oriented policy. This work has thus examined the use of whistleblowing as an anti-corruption tool in Nigeria. It explained what corruption is, and then explored the whistleblowing, a concept which is often not viewed positively by organizations, notwithstanding its key role in fraud detection. Emerging from this general explanation, the work went further to dwell more specifically on the problems of corruption in Nigeria. These problems were discussed in terms of its forms, causes and effects in Nigeria, and possible reasons why they persist even with various anti-corruption wars provided. The discussions on the Policy disclosed various incentives and disincentives to whistleblowing in Nigeria.
The accessibility of relevant information on the Policy was restrictive, and mostly sourced from unpublished works, but tremendous efforts were employed to harness as much information to produce a comprehensive writing on the topic. The scholarly materials reviewed in the discussions reveal how corruption has become a global problem which affects every country, howbeit in different ways. Thus, whereas the corruption level of some countries is at its barest minimum, Nigeria’s corruption is found outrageously high. However, the introduction of the Policy is apposite and brings much hope of change. A culture which promotes whistleblowing can prove beneficial to every citizen and the society at large, and the importance of whistleblowing is exemplified in a country like the US, where employees must now sign oaths that they will report wrongdoing to the appropriate authority thus requiring them to blow the whistle when necessary.
Although the Policy is still in its early days in Nigeria, it has shown to be promising and the government seems to be putting much efforts in achieving significant successes. This study therefore, offers a comprehensive formal document on the Policy, and provides grounds for further research and re-evaluation of the Policy. It has discussed serious issues, if well considered by the relevant government agency will not only aid in the achievement of the aims and objectives of the Policy, but also add necessary reforms to the Whistleblowing Protection Bill. Finally, it is hoped that the Policy will resuscitate the dying culture of openness, integrity, and uprightness amongst public officers while at the same time balk at victimization, intimidation, and harassment of those who call these erring officers to account, provided these are done in good faith.
 M Ugur and N Dasgupta, ‘Systematic Review: Evidence on the Economic Growth Impacts of Corruption in Low-Income Countries and Beyond’ (Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI- Centre), August 2011) 3 <http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/> accessed 28 June 2017.
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 M Johnston, Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power and Democracy (CUP 2005) 18.
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Top of Form
Bottom of Form
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 Section 806 of SOX; False Claims Act 31 United State Code, s3730 (d); Dodd-Frank Act, s 1057 Lewis (n 29) 2.
 UNCAC, art 8, 13 and 33; Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption, art 9; Council of Europe Criminal Law Conventions on Corruption, art 22; Inter-American Convention against Corruption, art III (8); African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption 2003 (AUCPCC); Beatt v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust  EWCA Civ 401 (CA); Kohn, ‘Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press 2011) 2.
 Public Interest Disclosure Act 1999 (UK); Whsitleblower Protection Act 2004 (Japan); Whistlebowers Protection act (Law 571) 2004 (Romania); Whistleblower Act (Act 720) 2006 (Ghana).
 Dodd-Frank Act, S 922.
 Protection of Public Interest Whistleblowers, 2011 (Korea), art 17.
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 ‘Police Roadblock, Extortion Persists in Lagos’ (Nigeria Police Watch, 13 November 2012) <www.nigeriapolicewatch.com /2012/11/police-roadblock-extortion-persists-in-lagos/> accessed 8 August 2017. See further A Uzokwe, Nigeria: Contemporary Commentaries & Essays (Universe 2015).
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 ibid 4.
 ibid 2.
 ibid 3.
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 Art 33 of the UNCAC provides that ‘each State Party shall consider incorporating into its domestic legal system appropriate measures to provide protection against any unjustified treatment for any person who reports in good faith and on reasonable grounds to the competent authorities any facts concerning offences established in accordance with this Convention.’
 Under art 5(6) of the AUCPCC, ‘State parties agree to adopt measures that ensure citizens report instances of corruption without fear of consequent reprisals.’
 ‘See n 50’.
 Policy (n 101) 3.
 Policy (n 101) 4.
 Rapp (n 43) 114.
 R Morberly, Sarbanes-Oxley’s Structural model to Encourage Corporate Whistleblowers’  Brigham Young University Law (BYUL) Review 1111.
 Policy (n 101) 3.
 Policy (n 101) 4.
 Policy (n 101) 3.
 (n 68).
 OFGEM (n 36).
 David Lewis, ‘Whistleblowers, Reasonable Belief and Data Protection Issues’ (2006) 35 (3) Industrial Law Journal 326. See also Bolton School v Evans  IRLR 500 (Employment Appeal Tribunal).
 Dodd-Frank Act, s 922.
 ‘Financial Incentives for Whistleblowers: Note by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority for the Treasury Select Committee’ (FCA and PRA, July 2014) 2 <www.fca.org.uk/ publication/financial-incentives-for-whistleblowers.pdf> accessed 28 July 2017 . See also J Lee, ‘Corporate Corruption and the New Gold Mine: How the Dodd-Frank Act Overincentivizes Whistleblowing’ (2011) 77 Brook Law Review 315 – 20.
 ibid 3.
 Policy (n 113) 3 and 4.
 P Bucy, ‘Private justice’  76 Southern California Law Review 61.
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 Ujah (n 108).
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 ‘Text to n 82 in ch 3’.
 Ogundipe v The Minister of Federal Capital Territory (2014) LPELR – 22771 (CA).
 S 9 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed with a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
 Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Co  1 QB 256.
 (2002) LPELR- 3172 (SC).
 Ujah (n 108).
 In Ebhota v Plateau Investment & Property Development Co Ltd (2005) 15 NWLR (PT 948) 266 at 289 paras [D] – [E], the SC reiterated that a policy statement or guideline by the Federal Government does not give rise to a contractual relationship between the Government and a third party. See also Wilkie v Federal Government of Nigeria (2017) LPELR – 42137 (CA).
 (2016) LPCELR – 41204 (CA).
 Akpan v University of Calabar (2016) LPELR- 41242 (CA).
‘Nigeria Central Bank Head, Lamido Sanusi Ousted’ (British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) News, 20 February 2014) <www.bbc.co.uk/ news/world-africa-26270561> accessed 4 July 2017.
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 O Olawoyin, ‘Nigerian Government Recalls Sacked whistleblower’ Premium Times (Abuja, 27 June 2017) < www.premiumtimesng.com /news/top-news/235168-Nigeria-govt-recalls-sacked-whistleblower.html> accessed 3 July 1997.
 Policy (n 113) 4.
 ibid 4.
 Dodd-Frank Act, s748.
 J Mateo, ’68 Government websites Attacked’ (Philstar Global, 16 July 2016) <www.philstar. com/headlines /2016/07/16/ 1603250/68-govt-websites-attacked> accessed 5 August 2017. See further J Nurton, ‘Victims of Bank Fraud Should Accept the Blame and not Expect Automatic Refunds, the Boss of Royal Bank of Scotland Warned Yesterday’ Daily Mail (London, 8 August 2017) 2.
 Ujah (n 108).
 Rapp (n 43) 115.
 David Lewis, ‘Whistleblowers, Reasonable Belief and Data Protection Issues’ (2006) 35 (3) Industrial Law Journal 326. See also Bolton School v Evans  IRLR 500 (Employment Appeal Tribunal).
 Lewis (n 123).
 U Udoma and B Osagie ‘Data protection in Nigeria’ 1 <www.uubo.org/downloads/SIMM0715001-Data_Privacy_ Protection _in _Nigeria.pdf> accessed 14 August 2017.
 The NCCR for instance, provides that all licensees must take reasonable steps to protect customer information against improper or accidental disclosure and must ensure that such information is securely stored.
 Section 8 of the Child Right Act guarantees every child’s entitlement to privacy, family life, home, correspondence, telephone conversation and telegraphic communications, while section 205(2) prohibits the publication of any information that will lead to the identification of a child offender, and requires that the records of child offenders be kept strictly confidential and closed to third parties except in certain limited circumstances.
 Under section 14 of the FOI Act, a public institution is obliged to deny an application for information that contains personal information unless the individual involved consents to the disclosure, or where such information is publicly available.
 L Abdulrauf and C Fombad, ‘Personal Data Protection in Nigeria: Reflections on Opportunities, Options and Challenges to Legal Reforms’  38 Liverpool Law Rev 106; ‘Guidance for Organisations: Access to Information Held in Complaint Files’ (International Commissioner’s Office)4 < https://ico.org.uk/media/1179/access_to_information_held_in_complaint_files.pdf > accessed 5 August 2017.
 See South Australian Whistleblower Protection Act 1993, s 5(2).
 Lewis (n 123).
 See generally UNCAC, art 5-14.
 Lumumba (n 87).
 M Miceli and others, ‘Who blows the whistle and why?  45 Industrial and labour Relations Review 113-130.
 S Pierce, Moral Economies of Corruption (Duke university Press 2016) 20.
 Neha and Pathak (n 107).
 S Kohn, Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself (Lyons Press 2011) xv.