Report on Saturday said whistle-blowers may get N2.1bn reward for their whistle-blowing efforts that have led to major discoveries since December 20, 2016 when the policy was inaugurated by the Federal Government.
It was, however, learnt that payment would only be made after the recoveries have been thoroughly investigated by the anti-graft agencies.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had at the inauguration of the policy, said any Nigerian who gave information leading to the recovery of looted funds would be compensated by up to five per cent of the amount.
He had also laid out the compensation plan, saying informants whose information led to the discovery of up to N1bn would receive five per cent of the amount; those who gave tips leading to the discovery of between N1bn and N5bn would receive five per cent on the first N1bn and four per cent on the remaining N4bn; while those who gave information leading to the recovery of over N5bn would get 2.5 per cent of the amount.
Mohammed had further clarified that those who gave information leading to the recovery of, say, N10bn would get five per cent of N1bn, four per cent of N4bn and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N5bn.
Four months after this policy was launched, the Federal Government has recovered about N71.7bn, with informants entitled to a sum of N2.1bn.
For instance, a whistle-blower’s tip had on February 3, 2017 led to the recovery of $9.8m and £74,000, totalling N3bn, belonging to a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu.
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had stormed a building in Sabon Tasha in Kaduna City, where the money was stashed in a huge fire proof safe.
Going by the Federal Government’s compensation plan, the informant is entitled to five per cent of N1bn (N50m) and four per cent of the remaining N2bn (N80m), making a total of N130m.
On February 12, 2017, Mohammed said a whistle-blower’s tip had also led the government to recover $136.7m (N42bn) from an account in a commercial bank, where the money was kept under a fake account name.
Therefore, the informant is entitled to a total of N1.1bn — five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of N37bn (N925m).
During the same period, the minister said another informant had given a tip which led to the recovery of N7bn and $15m (N5bn), totalling (N12bn).
The whistle-blower is therefore entitled to a total of N385m — five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N7bn (N175m).
Mohammed had also said another N1bn was recovered, so the whistle-blower is entitled to N50m, that is, five per cent of the amount.
On April 8, 2017, officials of the EFCC had recovered N449m in a shop located in the Nigerian Air Force complex, Legico, Victoria Island, Lagos, after receiving a tip-off from a whistle-blower.
Hence, the informant is entitled to N22.5m, which is five per cent of N449m.
On April 11, 2017, the EFCC had also recovered €547,730, £21,090 and N5, 648,500 (totalling N250m) from a Bureau de Change operator in Balogun Market, Lagos, after receiving a tip-off.
The whistle-blower is, therefore, eligible to be paid N12.5m, five per cent of the recovered amount.
The most recent recovery was carried out on April 12, 2017 at a flat at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, where EFCC operatives retrieved $43m, £27,000 and N23m (totalling N13bn).
The informant is entitled to a total of N410m, which is five per cent of N1bn (N50m); four per cent of N4bn (N160m); and 2.5 per cent of the remaining N8bn (N200m).
Therefore, since December 2016, the whistle-blowing policy has fetched informants a total of N2, 145,000,000.
When contacted, the Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, said the framework for the implementation of the reward system under the whistle-blower policy was being worked on.
He said as soon as the modalities for the reward system were concluded, the government would start the implementation of the reward regime.
He said, “The Federal Ministry of Justice is finalising the modality and framework for implementing the reward policy.
“Additionally, all recoveries reported are subject to thorough investigation by the relevant agencies.
“As soon as the processes are concluded, the reward regime will be implemented in deserving cases.”
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment as his telephone indicated that it was switched off.
However, a reliable source within the Federal Government said whistle-blowers would be paid once all legal hurdles had been crossed.
The source said for instance, the $9m recovered from a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Andrew Yakubu, was being challenged and as such, it would be premature to give the whistle-blower any money.
He said, “A lot of the recoveries made have legal obstacles which the government must overcome before paying whistle-blowers. For instance, Andrew Yakubu is challenging the Federal Government over the $9m seized from him.
“We cannot pay the whistle-blower until the money is finally forfeited to the Federal Government. So, these modalities will be worked out between the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General of the Federation.”
Meanwhile, unemployed youths, students and many others have expressed interest in whistle-blowing, seeing it as a new money-spinner.
A Lagos-based graduate of Economics, Kola Akindemowo, said, “I wish I had an opportunity to whistle-blow, just like the guard who gave the EFCC the tip-off which led to the recovery of N13bn in Ikoyi. That’s the kind of money that has no struggle. It’s the type I want to have. I’ve been looking for a good job for the past four years.”
“I am ready to blow anything now, be it trumpet or saxophone. Whistle is too small. I see it as a new money-making machine and I envy those who had got the opportunity to key into the policy,” he added.
Another Lagos-based youth, simply identified as Chigozie, said he would be happy if he could have a chance of making money from the policy, saying, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to whistle-blow. Even if I can make just N5m, I am okay. I will use it to start my business.”