An NGO, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), says it has trained some lawyers in Lagos on whistleblowing and protection of whistleblowers to assist in building fair and equitable society.
Mr. Chido Onumah, AFRICMIL Coordinator, made this known in Lagos, during the training, which was part of the NGO’s good governance initiative programme tagged: “Corruption Anonymous (CORA)”.
Onumah said the project seeks to build public confidence and support for the Federal Government’s whistle blower initiative and advocate for clear rules and guidelines for the safety of whistleblowers.
The CORA project, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, aims at highlighting the importance of whistleblowing in the fight against corruption and the need to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was in collaboration with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)·
Onumah, represented by Mr. Kolawole Ogunbiyi, the Programme Manager of AFRICMIL, said that the NGO partnered lawyers in human rights, commercial and criminal law practice for the project.
“Bearing in mind the intricacies and pervasiveness of corruption in all facets of life, the judicial system, which includes lawyers, is not excluded.
“Hence, the importance of this training to help amplify our work in whistleblowing and whistleblower protection,” he said.
Onumah said that AFRICMIL acknowledged the importance of lawyers to secure legal protection and equitable justice for all, including the victimised or about-to-be victimised whistleblowers.
“Lawyers are also whistleblowers, and so should have as much stake, if not more than any agency is not only the entrenchment of the culture of speaking up against wrongdoing.
“But also in the practice of standing up for anyone facing reprisals for doing so,” he said.
Onumah expressed optimism that the training would create a network of pro-bono lawyers that would provide legal services to ensure protection for whistleblowers.
Also, Mr. Kolawole Oluwadare, the Deputy Director, SERAP, lauded the partnership between SERAP and AFRICMIL, saying that people need protection, especially with an absence of Whistleblowers Act.
Oluwadare said that many whistleblowers that got into trouble for allegedly providing false information could not afford legal fees, thus require assistance from the network of lawyers.
He said that domestication of legal system was crucial to the protection of whistleblowers and the sustainability of the whistleblowing policy.
Commenting, Mr. Nathaniel Ngwu, the Convener, Criminal Justice Network of Nigeria, advised whistleblowers to partner with network of lawyers to assist in evaluating their facts before revealing corrupt practices.
Ngwu said doing that would enable the lawyers to protect the whistleblowers effectively.
He urged the Federal Government to ensure the whistleblowing policy becomes law toward protecting whistle-blowers from intimidation and fear. (NAN)