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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu urging him to use his “good offices and leadership position to ensure the immediate, unconditional and full reinstatement of all the eight members of staff of the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos (YABATECH) who were sacked as a result of their whistle-blowing activities.”

The organization wants Malam Adamu to “prevail on the Polytechnic Council to reinstate the whistle-blowers back to their respective assignments in the Polytechnic with all their entitlements paid and their promotions effected as their victimisation is against the spirit of Nigeria’s international human rights and anticorruption obligations and commitments, including the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

The names of the dismissed whistle-blowers are: Mr. Olugbenga Ibirogba; Mr. Charles Akharayi; Mr. Ayinde Bamide; Mr. Olusola Dada; Mrs. Gbemisola Dada; Mrs. Temilola Akinwunmi; Mrs. Mopelola Ibitomi; and Mr. Adedeji Basiru.

The organization in a letter sent last Friday and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni also called for the “immediate release and full implementation of the report of the 2015 Investigative Panel headed by Professor Idowu Awopetu that probed several petitions and allegations of corruption in YABATECH. The panel has since submitted its report, findings and recommendations to the Federal Government.”

The letter reads in part: “SERAP has been fully briefed by the dismissed staff of YABATECH who were sacked whistle-blowers because of their public interest disclosures on alleged corruption and unlawful enrichment of the Rector of the Institution.”

“Allegations of corruption, unlawful enrichment and the misuse of power or any position of authority by Polytechnic personnel for personal gain threaten and harm the public interest. SERAP is seriously concerned about the alleged systemic and widespread nature of the crimes in an educational institution which is supposed to be bedrock of learning and good culture.”

 

“We are seriously concerned that the dismissed staff members have not been appropriately treated or protected by the Polytechnic authorities or Council to remedy the exposed threats or harm to them. No whistle-blower should ever be penalised simply for making a public interest disclosure. SERAP strongly believes that every individual should feel safe to freely raise public interest concerns, just as the above-mentioned staff members have done in disclosing information on alleged corruption, fraud and unlawful enrichment in the Polytechnic.”

 

“Unless the authorities or Polytechnic council grant these staff members the appropriate protection deserving of whistle-blowers, encourage them to disclose corruption in the educational system and promptly act on those allegations, a significant opportunity to protect the institution and public interest would be missed thereby doing a disservice to their calling and appointment as Polytechnic council members.”

 

“SERAP believes that retaliation or victimisation of whistle-blowers should not under any circumstances or anywhere be tolerated, especially under the watch of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which has been at the forefront of the anti-corruption crusade.”

 

“Encouraging whistle-blowers to speak up improves public services and strengthens public accountability. By terminating the appointment of these staff members, SERAP believes that the authorities of YABATECH has acted improperly or attempted to cover up the alleged corruption and fraud rather than promptly addressing it.”

 

“SERAP also believes that the information being disclosed by these whistleblowers can contribute to strengthening transparency and accountability in the Institution in particular and the country as a whole. The termination of the appointment of these staff members amounts to retaliation. Their status as a whistle-blower is not diminished even if the perceived threat to the public interest has not materialised, since they would seem to have reasonable grounds to believe in the accuracy of the disclosures on alleged corruption and fraud in the Institution.”

 

“SERAP argues that whistleblowing is very important in deterring and preventing corruption, and in strengthening democratic accountability and transparency in the country in general. Whistleblowing is indeed a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and is important in tackling gross mismanagement of our commonwealth. Whistleblowing can act as an early warning to prevent damage as well as detect wrongdoing that may otherwise remain hidden.”

 

“Further, whistleblowing can help ensure the effective compliance with Nigeria’s international anticorruption obligations and commitments by allowing those legally responsible for the alleged misconduct the opportunity to address the problem and to account for themselves, and by more readily identifying those who may be liable for any

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