Threat to Whistleblowers: Why Lawmakers Must Pass Protection Bill


Why is the federal government threatening to imprison whistleblowers who leak government documents?

Development Diaries reports that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, recently warned that unauthorised disclosure or leakage of official documents, which can negatively impact the country, is a punishable offence.

This is a troubling development that undermines democratic principles and transparency.

It contradicts the principles of accountability and good governance and is also condemnable because journalists and civil society organisations (CSOs) occasionally depend on these disclosures to reveal wrongdoings and corruption in the government.

The tenth senate in November 2023 reintroduced the bill seeking to protect whistleblowers after a number of failed attempts.

Many developed countries were quick to form a legal mechanism that guarantees the protection of whistleblowers and encourages active participation of citizens in anti-corruption efforts.

However, instead of ensuring that this bill becomes law, to ensure the protection of patriotic citizens who expose corruption, the SGF is threatening citizens supporting Nigeria’s development through exposing wrongdoings in government.

The delay in creating a legal framework for Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight sets it at odds with international best practices. If the Whistleblowers and Witness Protection Bill is signed into law, it will encourage the reporting of corrupt practices in the country.

The government agencies cannot tackle corruption alone, they need the help of citizens. And for Nigeria to get close to effectively tackling corruption, citizens need to take ‘ownership’ of the fight.

Furthermore, for citizens to effectively support government agencies in fighting corruption, there is a need for comprehensive whistleblowing legislation that provides adequate protection for citizens who come forward to report wrongdoing.

Instead of threatening to imprison people, the government should guarantee people their security when they blow the whistle, which would empower them to speak up without fear of reprisal.

Development Diaries calls on the Nigerian legislature to ensure the Whistleblowers and Witness Protection Bill passes a second reading, while we call on President Bola Tinubu not to delay assent to the bill.

Photo source: George Akume


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