On the 9 September 2020, a judge ruled in favour of a whistleblower who was dismissed from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Nigeria after raising concerns about the Dutch Ambassador’s dealings with the giant oil multinational company, Shell. Fidelia Onoghaife, a senior policy advisor, had reported concerns that the Ambassador had leaked confidential information about a major corruption investigation to Shell senior officials.
Two Dutch organisations have supported Onoghaife with her legal battle in the Dutch courts. Milieudefensie
and the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation
(FNV) will continue to monitor the case following the Court’s judgement which they feel strengthens a picture of collusion between the Government and Shell, and now warrants an independent judicial inquiry.
Rik van Steenbergen, Policy Adviser at FNV said that the coalition were happy with judge's verdict:
“This judgment confirms that it not acceptable for a country like the Netherlands, which attaches great importance to the international legal order, to accept the dismissal of a whistleblower who properly reported concerns internally. This judicial ruling is in stark contrast to the position taken by the Dutch Ambassador in Nigeria - whose integrity is under discussion.”
Chido Onumah, Coordinator of Corruption Anonymous
(CORA), which promotes whistleblowing and advocates to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers in Nigeria, agrees:
"We welcome the judgement in The Netherlands on the case of Fidelia Onoghaife, an internal whistleblower at the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria who was dismissed last year by the embassy after she revealed that the ambassador allegedly leaked confidential information about a corruption investigation on Shell. This judgement is a vindication of Ms Onoghaife. For over a year, the embassy tried to bully her and frustrate the case. We are happy that justice is served. We call on the Nigerian government to protect Ms Onoghaife, and on the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria to compensate her for wrongful dismissal."
CORA, a project hosted by the African Centre for Media & Information Literacy
(AFRICMIL), have supported other whistleblowers in a string of recent high profile cases in Nigeria, including NBET whistleblower Sambo Abduhalli
AFRICMIL is an Associate of the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN).
WIN backs local and international anti-corruption organisations calling on the Nigerian government to defend Onoghaife
. Civil society in Nigeria has long campaigned for whistleblowing protection rights to be strengthened and these cases demonstrate the need for government to finally pass comprehensive whistleblowing legislation.
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