Nigeria’s Justice sector bedevilled by poor funding – Malami cliams

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The Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami SAN lamented on Monday in Abuja that Nigeria’s Justice Sector as presently constituted is bedevilled by poor funding.

He noted that inadequate funding of the sector is too much for the country’s comfort and canvassed for a change of the ugly trend.

Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria presented the gory state of the Justice sector when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to defend the 2022 budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

According to him, “The rule of law as practised all over the world is the pivot upon which democracy revolves. The Justice sector as presently constituted here in Nigeria is bedevilled by funding inadequacies, too much for our comfort.

“The prime drivers of any given maturing democracy such as ours, are the Rule of Law, Due Process of the Law, Human Rights, International Obligations and Allied Matters.

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“Evidence reveals that Administration of Justice which guarantees sustainable peace, equity and fair play is undeniably capital intensive. In this circumstance, we need to reconceptualise the existing funding pattern of the Justice sector.

“Lamentably, 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 the effective administration of Justice, and cause an unwarranted travesty of Justice.

“True enough, the Justice sector is not primarily a revenue-generating sub-sector. This is because our constitutional obligations revolve around social services geared towards a peaceful, cohesive, and prosperous Nigeria.

“As a subsector, our revenue derives essentially from our constitutional activities and returns such as Value Added Tax, Withholding Tax, Stamp Duties, Returns on DTA, Certified True Copies, Earnings from use of government Halls, Tenders Fees, Earnings from Sales of government unserviceable Vehicles, Sales of Law Books and Journals and Rent of government Properties.

“However, the Ministry was mandated to embark on the recovery of looted assets and we have recorded an appreciable milestone in this regard as monies recovered are promptly deposited into government treasury thereby increasing the revenue profile of the government.

“Presently we are making efforts to ensure that we are allocated some cost of collection from recovered funds to finance our recovery operations. To date, there are large sums of illicit money stashed abroad for which we are working at close quarters with ICPC, and EFCC as dependable allies to effect recovery.

“The Ministry handles public prosecution and Civil Litigation for the federation and sometimes outsources these services particularly as it relates 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. We, therefore, need your kind support with adequate funding to successfully prosecute them.

“To prevent reoccurrence of a case similar to P & ID, Council directed AGF 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.

“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 have therefore incorporated accordingly.

“As 2022 beckons, I am looking forward to a more refreshing feeling of a common bond between the Justice sub-sector and all the Distinguish Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for a seamless administration of Justice in Nigeria.

“The year 2021 is rolling to an end and I can state without mincing words that the year is replete with fair and unfair challenges arising from competing needs and demands especially given the unending Covid-19 Pandemic, Kidnapping and Armed Banditry Challenges.

” In the face of scarce but allocated resources and granted the fact that the Justice sector superintends over the rule of law, it is hereby reasoned that we should reconceptualise the Justice architecture in tandem with the vital role of Justice Delivery and administration in a heterogeneous society such as ours.

“If we are to crystallise our democracy firmly, it is incumbent on us to build a bridge across Justice, covering a broad spectrum of activities because of our plural composition and divergent views on National issues.

“The year 2022 is another defining moment in the annals of our history. In any event, the Federal Ministry of Justice shall do its level best at ensuring that the nuances of politics do not compromise our Justice dispensation.

“We need your support with adequate funding to achieve this feat, Malami pleaded with the senators.

“I wish to thank you immensely for your diligent and unwavering long-standing support for the Justice sector. Your solid support has galvanised our operations in more ways than one, for which we appreciate and shall always take you into confidence in our collective quests to deepen the rule of law, and entrench our maturing democracy” he said.

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