The Nigerian senate has upheld a finding by the office of the auditor-general (OAGF) which accused the federal ministry of justice of not following due process in the disbursement of sums awarded as judgement debt against the federal government.
The OAGF report said between 2017 and 2018, N10.4 billion was earmarked as judgement debts, and the sum was disbursed without a committee required for that purpose.
According to the report, the last time the ministry had such a committee was in 2013.
Abubakar Malami has been the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF) since 2015.
The senate adopted the findings in the report on May 10 but the details were made available at the weekend.
The senate public accounts committee which examined the OAGF’s report is chaired by Mathew Uhroghide, senator representing Edo south.
“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,” the report reads.
“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.”
The report said if the practice is allowed to continue, the federal government would lose funds earmarked to pay judgement debts.
The senate agreed with the OAGF that the ministry of justice should discontinue the payment of the funds and constitute a panel for that purpose immediately.
The upper legislative chamber resolved to forward the findings to the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) for further action.