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Nigerian Senate indicts Justice Ministry for N10.4bn judgement debts

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The Nigerian Senate has indicted the Federal Ministry of Justice for its alleged failure to clarify how  N10.4 billion judgment debt was disbursed to  beneficiaries.

Judgement debt refers to money that a court of law orders the losing party to pay to the winning party. The parties in the case may be an individual, a family, a company, an institution or a government.

The indictment of the ministry was  sequel to the consideration of the 2017 and 2018 reports of the Senate Public Accounts Committee, SPAC, chaired by Senator Mathew Uhroghide (PDP Edo South).

The Red Chamber, therefore, ordered the ministry to stop further disbursement of the judgment debt and demanded that the committee responsible for the disbursement should be re-constituted and evidence forwarded to the Auditor-General of the Federation, AuGF, and SPAC within 30 days.

According to the Auditor-General’s report, the committee saddled with managing the disbursement of the judgment debt was dissolved in 2013.

It stated that when the N10.4 billion was disbursed by the Ministry of Justice in 2017, the committee had yet to be reconstituted.

The report added that lack of control, as witnessed in the disbursement of the judgment debt, could lead to a loss of public funds.

In the report, the Auditor-General, however, recommended that the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice immediately constitute the committee as required by law.

The report reads in part: “Examination of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice revealed that the sum of N460.95 million was appropriated for payment of judgment debts for 2016 and N10 billion appropriated for 2017, totalling N10.46 billion.

“Further examination revealed that the committee saddled with the responsibility of managing the fund was dissolved after the 2013 financial year and is yet to be reconstituted after the 2016 and 2017 appropriations.

“However, the ministry has been disbursing this sum without a committee in place. Lack of control could lead to loss of public funds.”

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