The attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami has said that debt judgments incurred by the federal government had risen to N150 billion.
Malami disclosed this when he appeared before the senate committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters to defend the 2020 budget proposal of the federal ministry of justice.
He said the bills accumulated because the ministry was not funded regularly to meet its obligations in that regard.
“The ministry of justice was mandated to take inventory and explore avenues for the payment of judgment debt which has become hydra-headed.
“This has arisen because it was only in 2017 that the sum of N10 billion was disbursed for the payment of judgment debt as appropriated.
“As it stands, the sum of over N150 billion remains unpaid, prompting beneficiaries of this sum to keep mounting pressure on the ministry,” he4 said.
The minister therefore said the ministry would need N50 billion annually to offset judgement debts.
“Distinguished members of this committee are hereby respectively requested to intervene on this long standing vex issue by appropriating the sum of N30 billion annually to mitigate this challenge.
“It will also forestall possible friction, accrued interests and unwarranted litigations arising from our failure to effect payment,” he added.
Besides, Malami sought for a 2.5 percent commission for the ministry from the $76.538 million as requisite commission from the Abacha loot and some other recoveries of Nigeria’s stolen assets stashed away overseas
He explained that his ministry deserves a sizeable commission from the recoveries “to replenish our efforts as a unit of asset recovery in the federal ministry of justice has evidently deposited all recoveries so far into the federal government treasury”.
The minister also said there are several protocols and agreements which Nigeria is obligated that require constant travels and made a request for a dedicated expenditure item “to service these crucial international obligations in order not to renege on our responsibilities as a nation.”
The attorney general identified paucity of funds as a notorious challenge facing the ministry in the execution of its mandate.
However, he assured that the ministry ready to forge ahead.
“We shall not relent on what we have set out to accomplish largely because the rule of law is undoubtedly the pillar of democracy the world over, the rule of law is good and noble but greatly capital intensive,” he said.