To prevent reoccurrence of a case similar to P & ID, the Federal Executive Council has directed HAGF to present a Memo for the establishment of a Federal Taskforce to review and Validate contracts, Judgments and Arbitral Awards and implement the Federal Verification System to prevent abuses similar to the P&ID case.
The Honourable Attorney General of Federation (HAGF) and Minister of Justice, Malami Abubakar SAN, disclosed this during the 2022 Budget before the Senate Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters ; and House Committee on Justice, on Monday, 8th November, 2021 in Abuja. According to him, “Council directed the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to incorporate the funding requirements of a Federal Contracts Administration System (FCAS) in Nigeria in the Federal Ministry of Justice’s 2022 Budget proposal. The Capital and Overhead components of FCAS are therefore incorporated accordingly”.
Malami who said his ministry is underfunded solicited for the Committees approval for adequate funding to successfully carry out their constitutional obligations. He said, “the Ministry handles public prosecution and Civil Litigation for the federation and sometimes outsourced these services particularly as it relates to those being prosecuted internally where State Counsels have legal limitations to court appearances”. “We all know that legal services (especially litigations) are not cheap. Furthermore, the Justice Sector reforms we are currently undertaking are costly to execute”. He explained.
HAGF added that, the prime drivers of any given maturing democracy such as ours are the Rule of Law, Due Process, Human Rights, International Obligations and Allied Matters. He said evidence revealed that Administration of Justice which guarantees sustainable peace, equity and fair play is undeniably capital intensive. Hence, the need to re-conceptualize the existing funding pattern of the Justice sector. “However, practically all the Parastatals under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Justice are in dire need of funding. For me, this is as dangerous as it is disturbing because funding gaps in the face of competing challenges could endanger effective administration of Justice, and cause unwarranted travesty of Justice”. He lamented. Malami while responding to questions from members of the committee chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central) on award of contracts, Malami said P&ID contract did not pass through the office of the Attorney General and that the contract clauses were inimical to Nigeria’s interest.
HAGF while appreciating the Senate and House of Representative Committees on Justice/Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters, for their unwavering long standing support, promised to ensure that the nuances of politics do not compromise justice dispensation. In his remarks, the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Right and Legal Matters, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi said, the legislative exercise was one of the most viable legislative activities, aimed at ensuring equitable distribution of the country’s resources with regards to allocation/implementation of projects and infrastructures to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. Therefore, the importance of the exercise is not only sacrosanct for the socio-economic and political development of the country but also germane towards providing democratic dividends to the citizenry.
Bamidele lamented the huge Judgment Debt profile of the Country that keeps soaring without corresponding response from the government in order to address the situation. This development according to him is a national embarrassment and necessary action needs to be taken to ensure that the image of the country is protected. In this regard, he implored HAGF to prioritize the Ministry’s budget and/or make a case for legislative intervention, where necessary, so as to ensure that the problem was critically looked into and proper solutions proffered.On his part, The House of Representative Chairman on Justice, Hon. Ugonna Ozurigbo, said the business of government could not be run in a vacuum, and budget approval was very critical to good governance. He advised that the Budget Defense exercise should be given the necessary importance it deserved, while calling on the HAGF for total disclosure of all material facts.
Other members present at the Budget Defense include Senators James Manager, Sen. Bala Ibn Na’allah and Sen. Chukwuka Utazi from the Red Chamber and Deputy Chairman, Kabir Ibrahim, Hon. Ibrahim Usman from the Green Chamber, among others.