The exchange of words between some government officials on one hand and some concerned citizens on the other hand about whether the whistle blower in the $43 million dollars Ikoyigate scandal has been paid his entitlements or not is a source of great concern to many. Another worrisome dimension was also added to the whole drama with concerns about his mental health being raised which precipitated his forced examination by a mental health specialist. The amount of money to be paid to the whistle blower is about N806 million naira.
It all began when the Chairman of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu fired the initial salvo at an anti-corruption conference in far-away Vienna, Austria when he said that the whistle blower in the Ikoyigate scandal who is widely believed to be one of the security men protecting the property has been paid all his entitlements. That statement immediately attracted a rebuttal from Lagos Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Mr Femi Falana who promptly debunked the claim by Magu saying he knows the whistle blower in question and that he had not been paid a dime. Wilson Uwajaren, spokesperson of the EFCC joined the fray when he attempted to clarify Magu’s statement by saying what Magu meant was that he would soon be paid by the Ministry of Finance. Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Honourable Minister of Finance, said they were planning to pay the whistle blower soon and that the delay in payment was caused by bureaucratic bottlenecks. A strange twist was added to the whole saga when Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on the Anti-Corruption War, claimed that the reason the money had not been paid was to prevent the man from going bonkers and spending the money frivolously due to the fact that he was a poor man who had not encountered such a huge amount of money in his life before. He further stated that the man was under tutoring on how best to spend the money so as not to attract unnecessary attention to himself which might have grave security implications. Meanwhile, the whistle blower’s lawyer placed an advertorial in some national dailies and also wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance intimating them that he is the legal representative of the whistle blower and also of two impostors who are claiming to be the rightful whistle blower.
The ding-dong over whether the whistle blower has been paid or not is actually sending a wrong signal to Nigerians that the whole program is a scam. This portends danger for the government’s anti-corruption war as Nigerians with valuable information on the whereabouts of our stolen patrimony might be tempted to lose faith in the program. The Ministry of Finance should straighten out the process of paying whistle blowers through the elimination of bureaucratic bottlenecks which currently impede the process of payment. They should also collect taxes on every amount of money that is paid out to the whistle blower.
It is the prerogative of the whistle blower to spend his money as he deems fit. After all, he is an adult so i do not see any need for tutoring by anyone on how he should spend his newly found fortune. The whole issue of his mental state could have been a misinterpretation of signs of extreme happiness and anxiety to lay his hands on the money so that he can begin to live the good life. After spending many years if not his entire life in poverty, his behaviour should not seem strange as that is the expected behaviour of anyone in his shoes. Also, the whole drama surrounding the payment of funds to the whistle blower is capable of attracting unnecessary attention to him which could spell doom for him security wise as the looters of the funds are still roaming the streets free. Subsequently, adequate protection should be given to all whistle blowers. They could easily do this by placing them on the watch list of various security agencies for at least a year after their whistle blowing.
Finally, the whistle blower policy should be legalized through an act of parliament so as to ensure that the current ant-corruption war would not be derailed when a new administration comes on board.Government must do everything within it’s power to get to the bottom of this matter because this issue has the capability of slowing down the anti-corruption train as the whistle blower program is a key component of the current administration anti-graft war.