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N540b recovered through whistle blower policy, says minister

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MINISTER of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) has so far recovered over N540 billion through the Whistle Blower Policy.

He stated this yesterday at the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Mohammed said: “To this end, as at May this year, the EFCC, through the Whistle Blower Policy, has recovered over N527 billion, $53 million, and £122,890.”

The minister, who was represented by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Sunny Adejoh Baba, said the EFCC also successfully launched a major onslaught on the seeming high-and-mighty in the society (including senior military officer and their civilian accomplices), who had soiled their hands with shady deals, leading to recovery of choice assets across the country.

He enjoined the media to align itself with the policies and programmes of the Buhari Administration, aimed at ridding the country of the cancer of corruption, in order to free funds for development projects, which will uplift the standard of living of the citizenry.

“This effort should not be seen as the sole effort of Mr. President or the Government alone. The media has a duty to ensure that the programmes of government, meant to uplift the lots of the citizenry, are projected as a national cause and not just as that of Mr. President or the administration,” the minister said.

Mohammed, who said the BON General Assembly is taking place at an auspicious time in view of the forthcoming general elections, urged the broadcasting organisations not to yield their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

He said the broadcasting outfits should instead promote the unity, stability and the development of the country.

“Anything short of this would amount to a criminal abdication of a sacred duty, which could spell doom for our collective national life.

“We have had enough sordid examples to learn from that we ought not to allow a repeat at this critical time of our national development.

“It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the media and specifically, broadcast media, do not allow itself to become a purveyor of fake news and hate speeches,” the minister said.

Mohammed restated the Federal Government’s commitment to allowing the media to carry out its assigned watchdog roles, even as government expects the press to be guided by national interest above every other interests.

The minister said the launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Jos in April 2016 underscored the administration’s determination to democratise the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.

He noted that the changing media landscape and the advent of digital technologies have fundamentally altered the nature and function of media in the society, at times circumventing traditional media and challenging its privileged role as gate-keeper of news and entertainment.

The minister, therefore, urged companies in the broadcasting value-chain to take the advantage of the market and build local stations that would create employment for a diverse segment of the population and also lead to a transfer of technology and free the creative dexterity of the young population.

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