The Civil Litigation and Public Law Department is a core-Department of the Ministry that has been operative since the inception of the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Department by its schedule is positioned as an image maker of the Ministry, as officers of the Department are often in the Courts regularly, on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Prior to 2004, it covered all its cases throughout the Federation from a central point. The headquarters of which was first located in Marina, Lagos but was subsequently moved to Abuja in line with Federal Government directives. Presently, it handles its cases through a zoning system, with thirteen Zonal Offices located in Maiduguri, Jos, Enugu, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Benin, Akure, Yola, Sokoto, Owerri, Makurdi and Lokoja.
The vision of the Department is to render professional quality service through effective and efficient representation of all stakeholders’ interest in the dispensation of justice.
The Civil Litigation and Public Law Department Mission statement is “To ensure fair and equitable dispensation of Justice in the Federation of Nigeria”.
- Provision of legal representation for the government in all civil matters involving government and its agencies,
- Rendering legal opinions on actions and policy Matters of government Ministers, departments and agencies.
- Initiation of actions to assert public right and agencies.
- The representation of government and it agencies in action of breach of contract, enforcement of fundamental right, master and servant, relationship, cancellation of oil prospection licenses, property matters, Taxation matters, enforcement of judgments etc.
- The provision of legal advice to other Federal Government Ministries.
- Liaising with all legal units in the handling of civil matters affecting the Federal Government.
- The department also promotes strict adherence to the principles of the rule Law which is one of the cardinal objectives of the present Administration.
Grievance Redress Mechanism
- A government Ministry, department or agency involved in litigation is issued or served with court processes.
- The court processes are forwarded or served on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
- The Honorable Attorney-general and Minister of Justice forwards the Court processes to the Director of Civil Litigation to treat.
- The Director of Civil Litigation registers the matter and files same before assigning it to counsel in the department to handle.
- Counsel handling the matter enters appearance for the government Ministry, department or agency concerned and represents it in court at all times the matter comes up before the court concerned.
- Council handling matters assigned to them write briefs, reports, opinions; comments etc and submit same to the Director of Civil Litigation for further necessary actions or direction.
- Complaints, grievances or inquires may be directed to the Director of Civil Litigation or through telephone numbers 080331198871.
Effects of Non-delivery of Services
The non delivery of services by the Department will mostly likely impact on the public in the following manner;
Judgments: Judgments entered against the government in most cases have crippling financial implications. Tax payers’ money as well as revenue realized from various economic sectors will be utilized in the payment of judgment debts which may well run up to billions of Naira. Presently, there are cases of judgment creditors trying to satisfy Judgment debts from even the Federation account.
Injunctions: Injunctive orders by the courts may cripple government activities particularly in the economic sector; an example is the Federal High Court order on government’s flaring of gas in the Delta Region.
Prohibitions: Prohibitive orders by courts may lead to flagrant abuse by certain class of citizen’s an example is the Federal High Court judgment on the Public Order Act.
Immigration Laws: Foreigners may seize the opportunity of non- performance by this department to flout immigration laws of this country.
Further, there may be flagrant breaches of constitutional provisions by states of the Federation and individual bearing in mind that one of the Attorney- General’s responsibilities is the assertion of public rights. This is one of the engine rooms of the Federal Ministry of Justice.