2020 Budget Proposal – Malami appeals for more funds to mitigate the Justice Sector challenges
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has appealed for increased funding to enable the Justice sub-sector deepen the rule of law, cultivate seamless administration of justice and also to fund its legal service operations.
The Minister made the appeal in the remarks he delivered at the Budget Defence Platform before the House Committee on Justice, National Assembly, Abuja.
Malami said that democracy and the rule of law are like Siamese twins, but the umbilical cord that binds the two is progressively weak owing to funding inadequacies.
He lamented that the challenge of bridging funding gaps had been recurring dilemma, slowing down the quest to engender equity, fair play, and balance in the federal association.
Malami however assured that the Ministry would not renege, because compromising the rule of law in a delicate federation would be dangerously counterproductive.
Speaking further, the HAGF also requested for the sum of N15 billion for the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Permanent site. He explained that the Institute which is the citadel of legal education has been sparsely accommodated at the Supreme Court building since its inception, and it is in dire need of the money to provide for its congenial permanent site.
While speaking on funding of the legal service operations in the Ministry, the HAGF told Committee members that the Country is presently faced with avalanche of security threats such as Banditry, Boko Haram, Kidnappings to mention a few.
He disclosed that funding of these excruciating legal matters had been lamentably poor. To reverse the trend of poor funding, he therefore solicited for annual release of 10-15 billion naira. This, he said would engender a more harmonious federation and prosperous country.
Malami appealed for approval of the sum of N7billion to accommodate the challenges bordering on Child Protection .He added that the National Assembly in unison passed the Child Rights Acts which was assented to by Mr. President in quick succession, of which the legal regime is been anchored by the department of Citizens Rights of the Ministry in collaboration with UNESCO.
On the issue of Process & Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), the Minister reiterated that ‘’ We are today neck deep with the P&ID saga where there are credible evidence to suggest that the purported $9.6 Billion adjudicated in favour of afore said company was a closely gathered toothless conspiracy geared towards stealing our hard earned patrimony .We have since swung into action, and I state without equivocation, there is a note of hope for us to triumph over this earth-shaking fraud.
In the ministry’s 2020 budget proposal, the AGF notified the Committee of an increase in the personnel cost. He gave reasons ranging from the N30, 000 minimum wage to an annual increase of staff salaries.
“The aspect of personnel cost is the prerogative of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and they are being managed, released and recreated by the office”, he explained.
“The sum of N.42 billion is being proposed to service personnel cost ranging from harmonisation of the salaries and allowances for state councils in the ministries ad our lawyers residing in the Gambia”.
He explained that there is an increase from 3.8 billion to 4.2 billion for the following reasons among which are employment of about 150 Lawyers in 2018 out of necessity by the Federal Civil Service Commission and are yet to be pay rolled; adjustment of staff salaries with respect to the N30, 000 minimum wage from grade level 03 to grade level 06, as well as annual salary increment for staff.
The HAGF had earlier presented a 33 Billion Naira Budget proposal of the justice sub-sector (including Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency and Nigeria Human Rights Commission) for the year 2020 to the Upper Chamber.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of the Committee Rt. Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo, representing Nkwere, Isu and Nwangene, Imo State, said that the Committee will ensure proper appropriation of the budget, adequate allocation of resources and zero tolerance for waste.
He promised the Committee’s assistance to the Ministry on urgent matters like Judgement Debts, Permanent Sites for Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and decongestion of Prison.
He said the Committee as the eyes of the Nation would ensure proper implementation of the budget to avoid illegal diversion and mismanagement of resources.
In his reaction on the budget presentation, Hon. Eng. Divinus Makwe requested to know if the Ministry has a department for recording and documentation of recovered funds, Assets etc. He therefore suggested that either the Ministry or the EFCC should have such a department.
Among other Committee Members present was Hon. Aniekan Umana (Akwa-Ibom), Hon.Kabir Tukura.
(Press & Head Public Relation)