…Says Judgment debt profile of the country has reached an alarming and embarrassing state
The Senate said Monday that it is not aware of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Freezing the bank accounts of some leaders of the #EndSARS protesters.
According to the Senate, the governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele never wrote to it prior to taking such a decision.
This came up today when the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN appeared before the Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti Central led Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for the defence of his ministry’s 2021 budget estimates.
The Senate has also raised the alarm that the Judgment Debt profile of the Country has reached an alarming and embarrassing state that must be addressed immediately.
Speaking with Journalists shorty after Malami appeared before his Committee, Senator Bamidele said that the Senate was awaiting further information on the issue of freezing the accounts of End SARS leaders from the nation’s apex bank.
Recall that the bank accounts of some youth leaders were reportedly frozen by the Federal Government over their alleged involvement in the recent #EndSARS protests.
Senator Bamidele who spoke when asked what step the Senate was taking on the issue, he said that the matter was at the moment not before the red chamber.
Senator Bamidele said, “We read it in the news like every one of us. Our committee is also interested in knowing what is going on in this regard. As it is our committee is neither in a position to either explain or defend.”
The Senator who noted that the legislature would liaise with the executive to know what was going on, said, “We will reach out to the executive. If it is true, we would find out what the stakeholders in charge are trying to achieve with this.”
Bamidele who noted that the committee was unaware of the recent arrest and imprisonment of six persons over allegations of sponsoring the terror group, Boko Haram, said that his Committee would also investigate it with a view to understanding the true position of things.
According to him, the Senate was working with the relevant committees of the House of Representatives on the amount earmarked for the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, “These are some of the issues before us as a committee. It’s not just the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, the House Committee on Justice is also working with us on this matter.”
Speaking on the 2021 Budget estimates of thd Ministry, Senator Bamidele said that the Senate Committee would scrutinise the 2021 budget of the judiciary so as to “get justification for what they were proposing for 2021.
On the Judgment Debt profile of the Country that has reached an alarming and embarrassing state, Malami did not give details of the amount on the judgement debts.
Speaking further, the committee raised concerns about it and asked the AGF to return with the details before the end of the week, just as it also asked Malami to give details of the N2bn his ministry proposed to prosecute civil litigation, prison decongestion, trial, prosecution of Boko Haram suspects, general administration of criminal justice system and payment for international legal obligations.
Earlier in his welcome address, Senator Bamidele said, ” However, in view of the timeframe within which the Committee is expected to report back to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and in order to fast-track the budget defence process, to ensure the passage of the 2021 Budget before the end of this year, the Committee resolved to hold this Budget Defence session and thereafter proceed with the oversight responsibilities visits, which would equally enable the Committee to ascertain veracity of how the allocations for the various MDAs were utilised. This visit, no doubt, would provide opportunities for interactive sessions, whereby the Committee would be briefed about any challenges/constraints, encountered in the course of the implementation of the 2020 Budget by the MDAs. This, in our view, would go a long way to facilitate robust deliberations on the Budget before its passage by the National Assembly. On the whole, this is the essence of today’s exercise.
” Before we commence this exercise proper, it is pertinent to also state that the Judgment Debt profile of the Country has reached an alarming and embarrassing state. As a result, it is our hope that in this 2021 Budget Estimates for the Ministry, provisions have been made, as a step towards addressing the judgment debt profile of the country before it goes beyond our control.
“Having said that, I wish to state that the 2021 Budget Estimates for the Federal Ministry of Justice and its Parastatals/Agencies, as contained in the Appropriation Bill, before the National Assembly, is Twenty Nine Billion, and Twenty Five Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Six Thousand, and Ninety Seven Naira (N29,025,596,097.00) only. Kindly note that this total sum is inclusive of the allocations to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, which is not an Agency under the jurisdiction of this Committee. Also the Statutory Transfer to the National Human Rights Commission, which is an independent statutory Body and not one of the Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Justice, is also included in the sum.
“Therefore, the actual budgetary proposals for the Ministry of Justice and its Parastatals that concern this Committee with respect to today’s exercise, after deducting allocations to the aforesaid Institutions, is: Thirteen Billion, Three Hundred and Thirty Seven Million, and Ninety Nine Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Four Naira (N13,337,099,364.00) only, after deducting the allocations to the NDLEA – which is Twelve Billion, Six Hundred and Eighty Eight Million, Four Hundred and Ninety Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Three Naira (N12,688,496,733.00) only; and the National Human Rights Commission’s allocation, which is Three Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira (N3,000,000,000.00) only.”