AGF seeks more funding in 2024 budget

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi,
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi

 

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, has called for more funding for the ministry to ensure improved perform in 2024.

Fagbemi said this on Monday in Abuja, when he reviewed the 2023 budget performance of the ministry as well as defended the 2024 budget at the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

He said the ministry was allocated N3.3 billion for capital expenditure and N4.6 for recurrent expenditure in 2023.

He said that with less than 30 days to the end of 2023, the ministry had only gotten releases of N617 million for capital expenditure and N2 .734 billion for recurrent expenditure.

This, he said had greatly affected the performance of the ministry.

He said the ministry was determined to achieve a paradigm shift in 2024, saying that it allocated N5.3 billion for capital expenditure and N8.8 billion for recurrent expenditure in the 2024 budget.

He urged the committee to support the ministry, as it was fundamental in driving the current administration’s roadmap for the justice sector.

He said legal and judicial reforms were some of the vital priority areas under the President’s eight point agenda.

“In order to ensure the security and confidence of the judicial officers coupled with the location of the trial, the Ministry is required to charter aircrafts to air lift them.

” The Ministry is also spending considerable resources on provision or upgrading of infrastructural facilities at the various venues to make them fit for purpose,” he said.

He said the ministry had been promoting the policy of having state counsels and handling more cases on behalf of the government.

‘There are instances where the need to engage senior external solicitors becomes inevitable.

“Thus, greater funding is required to increase the capacity and boost the moral of state counsels through regular payment of duty tour allowances, robe allowances, among others.

“The professional fees of the private solicitors also need to be settled,the ministry is also involved in defending the country in international litigation and arbitration which are by their nature very expensive to prosecute or defend in terms of payment of administrative fees to tribunals, professional fees to solicitors, expert fees.

“These cases usually arise after the closure of the budget preparation and passage process, which means the ministry is unable to make specific budgetary request for funding the cases,” he said.

He said that there was a backlog of obligations which needed to be cleared to sustain the efforts of the ministry in reducing government’s exposure to judgment debts as well as and ensured that implementation of government policies, projects were not hindered by litigation.

“The Ministry is also currently defending over 2000 cases, with huge potential liabilities, on behalf of FGN and its MDAs.

“These cases require diligent prosecution and effective defence to avoid embarrassment and enforcement actions,” he said.

Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Alhaji Mohammmed Mongonu said the aim of the meeting was to ask the minister to present a review of the 2023 budget in line with the constitutional responsibility that gave the parliament power to oversight MDAs.

This,he said was designed to ensure that Nigerians got value for money and to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilisation of funds appropriated to the ministry.(NAN)

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