Under a proposed law which was passed in the Senate Wednesday, Nigerians engaged in the latest past time of exposing corruption and corrupt persons have been shielded, and where victimised, can now seek redress and compensation.
The proposed anti-corruption law awaits similar passage in the lower House of Representatives and presidential assent after an harmonised copy is given to the President.
The Bill, which seeks to encourage and facilitate the disclosures of improper conduct by public officers and public bodies was presented by the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, chaired by Senator David Umaru, the member representing Niger East in the 8th National Assembly.
Otherwise known as “An Act to Protect Persons Making Disclosures for the Public Interest and Others from Reprisals, to Provide for the Matters Disclosed to be Properly Investigated and Dealt with and for other Purposes Related Therewith”, the Bill also seeks to ensure that persons who make disclosures and persons who may suffer reprisals in relation to such disclosures are protected under the law.
The Bill also specifies who is qualified to make disclosure of improper conduct; the procedure for making disclosures; and the protection due to ‘whistleblowers.’
Under the newly passed Bill, a person who makes a disclosure shall not be subject to victimization by his or her employers or by fellow employees. Additionally, a person who makes a disclosure has the right to take legal action if he or she is victimized, dismissed, suspended, declared redundant, transferred against his or her will, harassed or intimidated in any manner.
Speaking on the passage of the Bill, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki stated that:
“This is a promise kept. Today, we have passed a landmark piece of legislation to fight corruption and protect patriotic Nigerians who are fighting corruption,” he said, “This Bill will protect the lives of those who risk themselves to expose corrupt practices in Nigeria.”
With the passage of this Bill, the Senate has concluded work on three anti-corruption Bills. In May 2017, it passed the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, while in June 2017, it passed the Witness Protection Bill.
The Bill to establish Special Anti-Corruption Courts has been sent to the Constitution Amendment Committee. The Proceeds of Crime Bill has been sent to the Senate Joint Committee on Anti-Corruption and Judiciary.