Who protects the whistleblower?

by Stanley Oronsaye for Next, February 26th, 2011.

When Rashid Musbau, a share registry officer in one of the registrar companies became aware of some anomaly in his office, he knew he just could not be quiet about it. In the course of carrying out his duties one day, back in 2004, he discovered that some of his colleagues were involved in unauthorised verification of share certificates. Staff of stock broking firms would come with company share certificates and in connivance with the verification officers, they would get the certificates verified and such certificates are then sold off without the knowledge of the real owners. Mr. Musbau was surprised that some of his colleagues had been doing this for some time and yet there had been no official action taken despite reports made about it. He lodged an official complaint. The matter was investigated and some of the officials who were found to be involved were sacked. Mr. Musbau, the whistleblower, was also shown the way out. His offence: for daring to report the matter and embarrassing some officials in the process.

The villain

According to him, he never regretted his action. “My conscience would just not allow me see something wrong and condone it. I know that some of the very senior officers who were involved in the practice were sacked and some were spared and only given warning letters.” Mr. Musbau, the whistleblower became a villain, instead of hero.

A whistleblower is a person who raises a concern about any wrongdoing in an organisation. These wrongdoings could be a violation of a law, rule, or regulation. Mr. Musbau is not alone. There are many employees privy to some misconduct in their organisations but are reluctant to expose it due to a possible reprimand, victimisation or outright sack.

Since the collapse of Enron in the United States in 2001, regulators and operators see whistle blowing as a formidable way to entrench good corporate governance and also to nip any employee misdemeanour in its early stage. After Sherron Watkins, the accountant warned the authorities on the scam going on in Enron, the perpetrators knew the game was up. This opened the way for regulators to beam the light on the largest corporate fraud in recent years. (continue reading… )


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