AFRICMIL Urges Minister Of Finance And NBET Board Chair To Ensure Justice For Whistleblower
The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has appealed to the Board of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc to save a whistleblower, Sambo Abdullahi, from continued persecution by Dr. Marilyn Amobi, MD/CEO of NBET.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Board of NBET and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, the Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Chido Onumah, said Abdullahi, who exposed fraudulent activities at NBET, had been facing retaliation in the past two and half years and all efforts by successive Ministers of Power to resolve the impasse had yielded no result as Dr. Amobi defied their lawful directives. A copy of the letter was also sent to other members of the Board.
Onumah noted in the letter that reports by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Auditor General of the Federation and the Ministry of Power Ministerial Committee on NBET Staff Matters had indicted Dr Marilyn Amobi.
“It is noteworthy that all the reports mentioned above absolved Mr. Sambo Abdullahi of any wrongdoing,” Onumah said.
He pointed out that it was Dr Amobi’s continued disregard for directives of superior authorities that made the then Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to escalate the matter to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for intervention.
Onumah noted that Louis Edozien, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Works & Housing, in a letter dated November 26, 2018 addressed to the SGF, stated that all efforts to resolve the matter amicably failed as the MD/CEO of NBET refused to obey several directives of the Ministry to restore the salaries of NBET officers stopped by Dr Amobi.
As proof that the whistleblowers have been vindicated, Onumah cited the ICPC report addressed to Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, which noted in Paragraph 4(i) that the stoppage of the salary and other emoluments of the whistleblowers was unlawful and that the matter had been reported to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He also brought to the attention of the Board the judgement in the case of Sambo Abdullahi vs NBET delivered by Hon. Justice O. O. Oyewumi of the National Industrial Court, wherein the learned judge categorically ruled on March 11, 2020, that the whistleblower, Mr Sambo Abdullahi, should be paid his salaries and allowances (dating from December 2017) within 30 days of the judgement.
“It has been two months since that judgement was delivered and NBET has yet to act,” Onumah said, adding that the judge also ruled that the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) had no power to post treasury staff to NBET and take over the job functions of an existing staff qualified and appointed by the Board of NBET.
According to him, “This judgment buttresses the point that the victimised staff Mr Waziri Bintube (Chief Finance Officer) and Mr Sambo Abdullahi (Head, Internal Audit) are to be returned to their board appointed job functions/offices. Presently, OAGF staff occupy NBET finance and internal audit departments, a policy that runs counter to extant rules.”
He urged the Minister and chair of the NBET Board to note that the existence of the OAGF staff in finance and internal audit of NBET made the OAGF the processor and the reviewer of NBET financial transactions which is against the Financial Regulation.
“It is our prayer that you use your good offices to wade into the NBET crisis, not only to highlight the importance of whistleblowing in the fight against corruption in the country and protect whistleblowers from retaliation but to save the company and restore sanity in the power sector,” Onumah said.