The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN, CON, has solicited funds to support the on-going reform initiatives in the justice Sector.
According to the Director of Information, Modupe Ogundoro, the minister made this plea at the 2023 budget defense before the two Chambers of the National Assembly, namely; Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters and House of Representatives Committee on Justice.
In his opening remarks, the HAGF said, evidence had revealed that administration of justice which guarantees sustainable peace, equity and fair play is undeniably capital intensive.
“In the circumstance we need to reconceptualise the existing funding pattern of justice sector to support critical reforms in the sector. I wish to state that the ministry and practically all Parastatal under its purview are in dire need of funding” he explained.
HAGF explained further that, the conceptualisation of the ministry’s action plans and budget proposals was largely based on priorities targeted at invoking a paradigm shift in the country as he therefore solicited the support and collaboration of the senate committee to achieve the mandate.
“The 2023 budget is therefore focused on the desire to rebuild the capacity of the justice sub-sector to meet with its ever- evolving, complex national and international obligations, rebuild our ability to fight corruption, restore investor confidence, recalibrate the economy and inevitably facilitate peace and security in the nation” he clarified.
Malami expressed his appreciation for the tremendous support the legislature rendered to the ministry, particularly with respect to passing much needed Bills into law, which have helped to reinvigorate and provide legal framework for the implementation and administration of justice.
“With your support, the justice sector has been transformed in to an avenue for revenue generation through the huge sums of money and assets being recovered by the ministry and other agencies, and also helped to plug leakages in the financial system through elaborate monitoring and compliance mechanisms” he hinted.
Malami explained that, it was on record that Federal Ministry of Justice had recorded appreciable recovery of stolen assets, which were promptly deposited into government treasury and are currently being utilised for critical infrastructural developments across the country. The Ministry according to him has also taken significant steps to support measures to ensure peace and security fight terrorism in all its ramifications and enhance access to justice.
However, the honourable minister sought for continuous support for the justice sector, particularly with respect to activities, action plans and initiative geared towards entrenching rule of law, institutionalising access to justice, protection of the freedoms provided for in the constitution and improving service delivery in the administration of justice.
Earlier, the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, said, the 2023 budget estimates for the FMOJ and its parastatal/agencies, as contained in the appropriation bill before the National Assembly, was seventy one billion, two hundred and ninety one million, and twelve thousand, nine hundred and seventy one naira (N71,291,012,971,00) only.
He noted that the sum is inclusive of allocations to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, which is not an agency under the jurisdiction of the committee.
Therefore, the actual budgetary proposals for the FMOJ and its parastatal/agencies according to Bamidele is twenty six billion, six hundred and sixty million, seven hundred and three thousand, five hundred and thirteen naira (N26,660,703,513.00) after deducting the allocations to NDLEA which is Forty billion, one hundred and thirty million, three hundred and nine thousand, four hundred and fifty eight naira (40,130,309,458.00) and the National Human Rights Commission’s allocation, which is Four billion, five hundred million naira (N4, 500,000,000.00).
Bamidele commended the Ministry for the building of law school in Bayalsa State, also praised the River State Government for single-handedly building the law school in River State.
Similarly, the Hon Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Justice, Honourable Ugonna Ozurigbo in his remarks at the budget presentation explained that it was his honest belief that budgeting and budget defence exercise provides a veritable opportunity to individually and collectively contribute their quota to the sustenance of effective justice system and justice delivery in Nigeria.
Ozurigbo further explained that the exercise of budget defence is one of the cardinal responsibilities of the legislature and they shall conduct the assignment with the required diligence, utmost good faith and within the ambits of the extant laws.
‘’It is worth mentioning that prior to the emergence of the leadership of the 9th Assembly committee on justice, some of the parastatals within the ministry never had provisions for capital budget allocation in their budget estimates’’ he informed.
“However, when we assumed leadership of the committee, we discovered the anomaly and went to work to reverse the ugly situation’’, he added.
Ozurigbo disclosed that through concerted efforts of the committee and taken into consideration the committee’s conviction, the agencies would now have capital budget allocation in order to realize their mandate and this has been achieved through the efforts of the committee.
However, the committee members applauded the ministry for serving Nigeria to the tune of ten billion dollars in the case of PI&D also called for more funds for publicity to create more awareness of the ministry’s programs and activities to the general public.
Ozurigbo assured that, the committee will do justice to the proposals and at the end of the day they shall all be happy to be part of the process.