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Osinbajo suggests redefine approach for fight against corruption, whistleblowers’ protection

By Idowu Abdullahi

As part of measures to make corruption unattractive in the country, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called on all anti-corruption agencies to change their tactics and adopt redefined approach in the fight against corruption in the country, saying priority must be given to whistle-blower protection.

He said the call had become imperative since corrupt  individuals had devised means to escape all anti-graft trap by using the instrument of law which had been affecting the administration’s fight against corruption and corrupt practices.

The Vice-President noted that he was convinced that there are many practical steps that could be taken to beat corrupt individuals at their games which would help the administration’s fight against corruption if adopted.

Speaking at the opening of 20th Anniversary African Regional Webinar of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), on Combating Corruption and Illicit Financial Flow: New Measures and Strategies, Osinbajo said Nigeria must democratize the fight against corruption, as well as ensure adequate protection of whistle-blowers.

He added that though there is no magic bullet to ending corruption, the country must work hard at reducing systemic and all other forms of corruption and be determined to succeed.

“We must make corruption expensive for those who engage in it and send the unequivocal message that corruption simply does not pay.

“It is the unenviable but noble task of ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies to make corruption unattractive to its disciples and facilitate new approaches to stemming IFFS and promoting asset recovery and return.

“Domestically, we must also be prepared to change, to some extent, our tactics in the fight against corruption. Listening to Edward Kallon, I am convinced that there are many practical steps that can be taken.

“We must democratise the fight against corruption. Many of our citizens are interested in the fight against grand corruption. Grand corruption as you know cripples the economy. But they also want to see action in what would be regarded as petty corruption – in their interfaces with government officials either in the search for certifications, approvals of any kinds, licenses and all of that. Many want to see that corruption at that level is tackled effectively. And I think that we must begin to look at innovative ways of doing so.

“Secondly, we must protect, even more, whistle-blowers – persons who come forward with information against corruption. We must protect those who are ready to fight against corruption and who are prepared to do so without necessarily disclosing their identities, and even those who are ready to disclose their identities.

“The thing that we must take note of is that corruption fights back. And it is fighting back and it has the resources to do so.

“In recent times, one of the chief ways that we are seeing more frequently is the use of unscrupulous individuals who are paid to use social media platforms to make outrageous allegations against persons perceived to be fighting corruption.

“The technique is not new, the idea is to tie everybody with the same so that you cannot recognize the truly corrupt or the truly corrupt activity, and genuine whistle-blowing is discredited as a result. And because our court system is slow, they count on the possibility that these victims may not pursue litigation or prosecution, you must devise a new legal strategy to ensure that this dirty trick not only fails but are penalized.

“The fight against corruption is nuanced and hydra-headed, it is not going to get easier by the day, as a matter of fact, it will get more difficult by the day and many will become discouraged in standing up against corruption.

“But it is our duty both as individuals and institutions especially in developing countries where corruption has such a devastating effect, to ensure that we prioritize the fight against corruption and continually device new ways and new approaches even as the hydra itself continue to manifest in different ways,” he added.

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