Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stressed the need to protect the identity of whistleblowers and individuals who divulge vital information leading to the exposure, arrest, and prosecution of corrupt elements in society.
Osinbajo also said that anonymous ownership of companies should be discouraged, while noting that while secret ownership of companies “is not always illegal, secrecy nevertheless provides a convenient cover for crime and corruption.”
This was contained in a speech delivered by the Vice President on Tuesday and published by his senior special assistant to the President for media and advertising, Laolu Akande.
Osinbajo, who spoke at a webinar dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the independent Commission against corruption on the theme “Fighting corruption and illicit financial flows: new measures and strategies”, praised the ICPC Board for preserving the ideals of the anti-bribery Agency two decades after its creation.
Established in 2000, the ICPC has the authority to enforce anti-corruption laws, prevent acts of corruption and educate the public on anti-corruption issues.
In his speech, the Vice President said: “for us in developing countries and especially in Africa, breaking down the wall of secret corporate property is crucial, because the secrecy around corporate property is linked to our backwardness.
Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, secrecy provides a convenient cover for crime and corruption.
“Our experience in Nigeria, as in other developing countries, shows that anonymous corporate ownership covers a variety of sins, including conflict of interest, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even the financing of terrorism.”
He added: “second, we must further protect whistleblowers – people who come forward with information against corruption.
We must protect those who are willing to fight corruption and who are willing to do so without necessarily revealing their identity, and even those who are willing to reveal their identity.
“We must pay attention to the fact that corruption is fighting back. And it resists, and it has the resources to do so. Recently, one of the main ways that we are seeing more and more often is the use of unscrupulous individuals who are paid to use social media platforms to make outrageous accusations against individuals who are believed to be fighting corruption.
“This technique is not new, the idea is to bind everyone with one resin so that you can’t recognize truly corrupt or really corrupt activities, and as a result, genuine informing is discredited.
And because our judicial system is slow, they are counting on these victims not being able to pursue a lawsuit or prosecution: you must develop a new legal strategy so that this dirty trick not only fails, but is punished.”
The Vice President praised the current ICPC Board, headed by Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, as well as the organization’s management and staff for their tireless efforts to fight corruption and any manifestations of it.