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Senate slams Justice Ministry over N10.4bn judgment debts



Senate slams Justice Ministry over N10.4bn judgment debts

Senate has indicted the Federal Ministryof Justice over alleged failure to show details on how N10.4 billion judgment debt was disbursed to the 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 either be an individual, a family, a company, an institution or a government.

The indictment of the ministry was sequel to the consideration of 2017 and 2018 report 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 ordered that the committee responsible for the disbursement should be re-constituted and evidence forwarded to the Auditor General for the Federation, AuGF and SPAC within 30 days.

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

It stated that as of the time when the N10.4billion 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 led to loss of public funds.

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

Senate slams Justice Ministry over N10.4bn judgment debts

The report reads in part: “Examination of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice revealed that the sum of N460.95million was appropriated for payment of judgment debts for 2016 and N10billion appropriated for 2017, totalling N10.46billion.

“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.”

In another development, the Senate has ordered University of Ilorin, University of Abuja, University of Uyo, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi; Federal University, Lafia; Federal University, Wukari; Modibo Adamawa University of Technology, Yola and the Federal University of Petroleum, Effurun to refund N4.7 billion mismanaged by the school management.

The Auditor General reports for 2016 and 2017 indicted the seven universities which was upheld by SPAC and also considered and approved by the Senate.

The breakdown showed that University of Abuja mismanaged total of N1.3 billion in 2017, Federal University of Petroleum (N1.1 billion), University of Ilorin (N745 million), Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA (N467 million), Federal University, Wukari (N43 million), Federal University, Dutsinma, Katsina (N141 million) and Federal University, Lafia mismanaged N32 million.

The indictment has been considered and sustained by the Senate and will be forwarded to the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF for further action.

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