Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice

The Honourable Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, has called on Senate to intervene on the issue of Payment of Judgement Debt.

He called for this at the 2020 Budget Defence before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters, which took place at the National Assembly, Abuja.

According to him, the Ministry has saddled to take inventory and explore avenue for the payment of judgement debt and it was only in 2017 that the sum of 10 billion Naira was disbursed for the payment as appropriated; meanwhile the sum of 150billion Naira remains unpaid, causing the beneficiaries of the sum to keep mounting pressures on the Ministry.

He therefore implored the Committee to intervene on the long standing issue by appropriating the sum of 30billion Naira annually to end the challenge and also to forestall possible friction, accrued interests and unwarranted litigations arising from the failure to effect payment.

The Attorney General also asked for the Committee approval 2.5% as requisite commission arising from recovery of stolen assets. According to him, the Assets Recovery Unit of the Ministry had done so much and with evidence had deposited all recoveries so far into the Federal Government Treasury. As a result of the legal procedural requirements for the recoveries which most times require the engagement of well-grounded lawyers and Consultants services to recover the Assets, hence the soliciting for the 2.5% as requisite commission arising from the recovery Assets.

Malami also notified the Senate Committee on the Ministry’s proposing   Executive Bill for the Establishment of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) Monitoring Commission /Agencies.

He explained that, “ACJA has since been in force, and the Ministry now operates Administration of Criminal Justice Department which have been empanelled by the ACJ Committee to work closely with the Department.

He added that recently they realised that the mandate and operational framework of the committee are tasking and wide ranging, requiring enhanced funding that would facilitates the operations. As a result of these they were of the view that the Committee should be transform into A Commission or an Agency under the Ministry.

“To drive our point home, the management of Ministry shall convey to the National Assembly after endorsement by Federal Executive Council, an Executive Bill for the establishment of Criminal Justice Administration Commission for your consideration and passage”. He further explained.

Malami concluded by appealing to the Senate Committee to give the Law noble profession the funding teeth  to effectively entrench the rule of law and maturing Democracy in line with International best practices..

The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central, in his remarks, said in line with the constitution, President Muhammadu Buhari had laid the 2020 Budget before the Senate for consideration and passage and they understand the importance of National Budget with the legislative agenda and the committee would perform Legislative oversight over the Ministry and its Parastatal.

He also said that the Committee is aware of the additional responsibility placed on the Ministry with regards to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) which empowered HAGF in section 29 sub section 1 of the Constitution.

Senator Bamidele also said that the Committee is concerned about the Judgement Debt that Government failed to service as expected.  However, he promised that the Committee would try its best to assist the Ministry.

Senator Chukwuka Utazi in his Observation said, he led his full support for the Ministry on the 2.5% commission arising from  the Stolen Assets Recovery, he said it would enable the Ministry to carry out their  activity.

Other Senators presented at the Budget Defence were, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi rep (Enugu North) and Senator Gabriel Suswam (Benue North East), Senator Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa west).

 

Ogundoro Modupe

DD (Press & Public Relations)