The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said whistleblowers are only paid commission after successful recovery of funds, not for information or mere tracing.
Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant to the Minister on Media said this in a statement on Sunday.
Malami clarified that “one does not get payment on account of exposing looted assets, but on successful recovery and payment of same into the designated assets’ recovery account at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’’.
He explained the procedure for engagement of a whistleblower or recovery agent as it relates to the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF).
The process starts with a proposal to the office. A letter of engagement is then issued to a whistleblower or recovery agent where the disclosure is assessed to have some prospects of success.
After this, the recovery agent or whistleblower is expected to notify in writing the acceptance of the engagement.
The recovery agent or whistleblower is expected, upon acceptance, to not only trace the assets but recover same.
This must be deposited in a “designated asset recovery account maintained by the federal government in the Central Bank which is usually provided to the recovery agent in writing’’.
The statement added that where these funds are eventually claimed to have been lodged by a whistle-blower or recovery agent, the CBN issues acknowledgement of receipt of the fund to the OAGF on demand.
Malami noted that the “satisfaction of the above elements that entitles the whistleblower or a recovery agent to a claim of success fee and the payment” is usually effected by the Federal Ministry of Finance and not the OAGF.
The minister said the role of his office was simply, “processing the above listed documents to the Ministry of Finance which is the ministry saddled with the responsibility of effecting payment’’.
Malami stressed that recovery was not about exposing the existence of certain assets in an account purported to have belonged to an agency of the government.
He said it was about establishing that the funds in the account are looted assets or illegitimately warehoused, following that up with actual recovery and lodgment of the funds in the designated asset recovery account.
Malami stated that entitlement to recovery fees was for all intent and purposes contingent on payment of the purported/exposed assets constituting the subject of recovery into the Federal Government Recovery designated account.
“This account is maintained at the instance of the President at the Central Bank of Nigeria and the details of the account are contained in the engagement letter.
“The agreed remuneration shall become due and payable to the whistle-blower within thirty (30) days of the receipt of the recovered/looted funds by the Federal Government of Nigeria and payment shall be made to the designated/nominated account provided in writing by the whistle-blower’’.
Malami advised whistleblowers who feel aggrieved about the recovery process to lodge a complaint with relevant government institutions for investigation.