NCCE EDUCATES CITIZENS ON SIGNIFICANCE OF WHISTLEBLOWING

The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) held its fourth Anti-Corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability Programme (ARAP) National Dialogue on Whistle Blowing at the Modern City Hotel, Tamale, as part of the Commission’s planned activities. The ARAP programme sponsored by the European Union (EU) aims to promote good governance in Ghana by reducing corruption and improving accountability and compliance with the rule of law.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the NCCE, Ms. Josephine Nkrumah noted that the ARAP programme was premised on the findings of the NCCE’s research findings on public opinion and perception on corruption which helped the Commission to fashion out education and awareness – raising on key issues that enhance democracy and nation building.

According to Chairman, the dialogue seeks to interrogate the role of citizens in the fight against corruption by throwing the spotlight on whistleblowing. The engagement enlightened the participants on the Whistle Blower Act (Act 720), 2006. Ms. Nkrumah highlighted the significant role of whistleblowers in the fight against corruption adding that the amount of money lost through corrupt activities could help solve most of our basic developmental problems.

Ms. Nkrumah urged participants to join the fight against corruption by reporting corrupt practices to the Ghana Police Service, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRAJ) and other anti-corruption agencies for investigations and action to be taken against these alleged corrupt practices.

Discussants at the 4th dialogue were: Mr. Salia Abdul Quddus, Northern Regional Chief State Attorney; Mrs. Amua Sekyi, Director of Public Education at CHRAJ; and Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah, Programmes Manager at Ghana Integrity Initiative. Lawyer Sampson Lardi Ayenini, a private legal practitioner and host of Newsfile, a current affairs programme on Joy Fm was the moderator.

Speaking during the panel discussion, Mrs. Amua Sekyi explained that one of the main objectives of the whistleblower protection laws is to promote and facilitate the reporting of unethical or corrupt activities in society. She noted that it is critically important that citizens understand the whistleblower law and be in a position to report any suspected corrupt activity. Mrs. Sekyi lamented that corruption continues to impede the progress of development in the country and indicated that collective efforts are required by both the Government and citizens to deal decisively with corruption.

Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah noted that people are not willing to blow the whistle due to lack of awareness and education about the Whistle Blowers Act. Salia Abdul Quddus, the Chief State Attorney of the Northern Region, explained that the Whistle Blower Act encourages individuals to blow the whistle on unlawful or other illegal conduct or corrupt practices of other persons, but it is believed that most citizens hesitate to blow the whistle because of fear of victimization.

The panel also discussed the Whistle Blower Reward Fund and it was revealed that after 13 years since the passage of the Whistle Blower Act, the Whistle Blower Reward Fund is yet to be established, a situation which is affecting the promotion of whistle blowing in the country. Mrs. Amua Sekyi called on citizens to put pressure on the government and Members of Parliament to do the needful to establish the Whistle Blower Reward Fund.

The discussants also took the participants through the available mechanisms for reporting corruption in Ghana. Mr. Quddus, said that when the whistle blower makes a disclosure and has a reasonable belief that his or her life or property, or the life or property of a member of his family is at risk or likely to be at risk, the whistle blower can request for police protection. He explained that in such situations the police will have to provide the whistle blower with the kind of protection it will consider to be adequate based on your circumstances.

The presentations by the discussants generated discussions, comments, questions and responses with some participants suggesting the use of technological platforms that would enable citizens to file complaints on wrongdoings in society so that their

identities would not be disclosed. It was noted however that anybody making a disclosure at some point will have to appear in person to aid the investigation. Participants were encouraged to be interested in fighting corruption in the country.

Present at the dialogue were Heads of Departments, Faith-Based Organizations, Traditional Rulers including Chief Kpan-naa Abubakari Andani, and the representative of the Sagnari-naa, Chief Alan Burns Bukari, Women and Youth Groups, Media Practitioners, Persons With Disabilities (PWD), Political Parties, Assemblymembers and Civil Society Organizations. The others were the Metropolitan Police Commander, Superintendent Tanko Issifu, and the Principal of Tamale College of Education, Dr. Sulemana Iddrisu.

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