We’re owing N150bn judgment debts –Malami

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,  on Wednesday, said judgment debts incurred by the Federal Government have risen to N150bn.

The AGF stated this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

He said the bills accumulated because the ministry was not funded regularly to meet its obligations in that regard.

He said, “The Ministry of Justice was mandated to take inventory and explore avenues for the payment of judgment debts which have become problematic.

“This has arisen because it was only in 2017 that the sum of N10bn was disbursed for the payment of judgment debts as appropriated.

“As it stands, the sum of over N150bn remains unpaid, prompting beneficiaries of this sum to keep mounting pressures on the ministry.

“Distinguished members of this committee are hereby respectively requested to intervene on this long standing vex issue by appropriating the sum of N30bn annually to mitigate this challenge.”

Malami urged the Senate panel to approve 2.5 per cent as commission for those involved in the recovery of looted assets.

He said, “May I humbly disclose that we are progressively making vital recovery of our looted funds stashed abroad.

“However, let me affirm that the legal procedural requirements for these recoveries are altogether taxing and cumbersome.

“Besides, most times we have to engage the services of well-grounded lawyers and consultants to effect recovery which were promptly deposited at Federal Government treasury.

“To smoothen our operations in this regard, it was deemed expedient to establish asset recovery unit in my office.

“So far, their efforts are quite salutary even in the face of zero requisite commission from recovery.

“I would like to reiterate my earlier request to the effect that about 2.5 per cent of recovered looted money should be earmarked to the asset recovery unit to service logistics, operational cost, payment to private lawyers and consultants.”

Malami also sought the support of the federal lawmakers on the proposed establishment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Commission.

The AGF said,  “The spectre of crimes and criminality in our entity and the near absence to address seeming loopholes, contradictions and ambiguities in the administration of criminal justice informed the passage by the National Assembly of the famous “Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 “.

“This act has since been in force, and my ministry now operates administration of Criminal Justice Department.

“We have empanelled the committee to work closely with the department.

“Members of this committee are the foot soldiers for monitoring and implementation of administration of criminal justice Act 2015 in Nigeria.”