The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation on the real ownership of the N13bn discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos last week.
SERAP said the president needs to clarify the issue following the controversy that has surrounding the monies.
The EFCC last week discovered the sums of $43.4m, N23m and £27,000 hidden in a house at the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are both claiming ownership of the cash.
In a statement signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP executive director, the organisation called on the president to also ensure legal backing for his government’s whistle-blowing policy.
“Clearing the doubts surrounding the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul would demonstrate that the president values transparency over secrecy, Mumuni said.
“This will further encourage more people to blow the whistle on governmental corruption and enhance the public right to know.
“The government’s increasing reliance on whistle-blowers’ tips to fight corruption has to be backed by some level of transparency and accountability in the real identities of those claiming recovered cash.
“Democracy abhors secrecy, and for Nigerians to be able to hold elected leaders accountable, they must have access to information such as on the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul.
“This transparency is fundamental to the operation of the government’s whistle-blower policy, and inextricably rooted in the notions of good governance and the rule of law under the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended).”
SERAP also said giving the whistle blowing policy a legal backing will ensure protection of the whistleblowers “from any retaliation and attacks” as well show how important the fight against corruption is to the federal government.
“The policy of giving whistle-blowers some percentage of recovered loot would seem to be a game changer in the fight against corruption but this government now has to squarely address the significant risks that those who blow the whistle face by urgently working with the national assembly to ensure the necessary legal backing that would ensure protection against reprisals and attacks,” he said.
“The government should ensure that the national assembly expedites the process of passing the whistle-blower Bill, as ensuring that the bill is passed without further delay would recognise the necessity of whistleblowers and the value they add to the anti-corruption fight by reporting otherwise unknown corruption-related information.
“It would also ensure that whistle-blowers are fully protected from any retaliation and attacks they may experience, and that the government fully appreciates the information they provide.”