The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemns the sack of Mr Joseph Ameh, Head of Physical Planning Division of Federal College of Education, Asaba by the institution based on his decision to report mismanagement within the College of Education.
According to a report, Mr Ameh’s appointment was terminated on May 13, 2020, and was further threatened for exposing corruption going on in the institution. Mr Ameh 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) Anene Okeakwa; Acting Director of Works, Engr Ibhafidon Ehimen with support from members of the college council.
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 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. The inactions of both arms of government in this regard also signal to citizens that the practice of whistleblowing is not acceptable in Nigeria and this is detrimental to the country’s democracy and against international best practices.
While The Whistleblowing Programme introduced by the Ministry of Finance in December 2016 is a step in the right direction, it does not suffice as it does not cover, among other things, employees and citizens from retaliation if they report crime, corruption or public health threats. People who make such reports are not recognized by law as whistleblowers thus leaving them no recourse for protection against retaliation.
The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) demands that the management of the Federal College of Education, Asaba should reinstate Mr Ameh to his position and that no further threats should be made on his life and livelihood.
The Coalition also asks 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.