The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned the sack of a whistleblower, Mr. Joseph Ameh, who is the Head of the Physical Planning Division of the Federal College of Education in Asaba, Delta State, by the institution for reporting mismanagement within the College. The Coalition is demanding his reinstatement.
The Coalition demanded that the management of the institution should reinstate Mr. Ameh to his position and that no further threats should be made on his life and livelihood.
Mr. Ameh’s appointment was reportedly terminated on May 13, 2020, and was further threatened with dire consequences for exposing corruption going on in the institution. MrAmeh had sent a petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), revealing series of corrupt practices happening in the college under the supervision of Provost, Dr. (Mrs.) AneneOkeakwa and the Acting Director of Works, EngrIbhafidonEhimen with support from members of the college council.
In a statement issued by CWPPF, it said: “Whistleblowing as a practice is important in democratic states for holding the powerful to account and any attempt to muzzle a whistleblower, as the management of the college appears to have done by sacking Mr. Ameh, is undemocratic and an abuse of power.”
The group pointed out that the failure of the legislature and the executive to pass the Whistleblowers and Witness Protection Bill makes them complicit in the abuse and recriminations faced by Mr. Ameh and other whistleblowers who have faced recriminations.
It added that the inactions of both arms of government in this regard also signal to citizens that the practice of whistleblowing is not acceptable in Nigeria saying this is detrimental to the country’s democracy and against international best practices.
The CWPPF welcomed the Whistleblowing Programme introduced by the Ministry of Finance in December 2016 as a step in the right direction, but noted that it does not suffice as it does not protect, among other things, employees and citizens from retaliation if they report crime, corruption or public health threats. It pointed out that people who make such reports are not recognized by law as whistleblowers thus leaving them no recourse for protection against retaliation.
The Coalition also called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to do a thorough investigation on this allegation and take immediate steps or actions against any erring party.
“Accountability is a central key in a democratic system. Both elected and non- elected officials are vested with the responsibility of using the resources available to them effectively and efficiently. Therefore, any allegation against any public official on mismanagement and misuse of office must be taken seriously and the public official must be made to give account without delay or manipulation,” CWPPF said.