By EDEM DARLINGTON, Calabar
The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has re-affirmed that the Ministry of Justice as the nation’s primary institution for the administration of justice, would remain committed to the promotion and defence of constitutional values and principles in the governance of the country.
His spokesman, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah in a statement made available in Abuja said the AGF made this known during the oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to the Ministry on Thursday and led by its chairman, Senator David Umaru.
Isah disclosed that the AGF expressed confidence that the Senate would continue to support the Ministry in facilitating national progress in the sector.
He maintained that the Ministry by its virtue of its mandate stands in a vantage position to articulate and implement the present administration broad policy objectives in four major priority areas in anti-corruption campaign, recovery of stolen national assets, rule of law component of anti-terrorism war and the institution of law and order in all aspects of national life.
Malami affirmed that, “The Ministry therefore stands today as the prime driver of this administration’s covenant with the Nigeria people and it is my hope that it will attract the requisite level of resources to match these enlarge responsibilities under the present dispensation.”
The AGF in highlighting the achievements of the ministry said, “As we have witnessed in the last two years, the anti-corruption campaign of the present administration has resulted in increasing collaboration between this Ministry and the anti-corruption agencies such as the ICPC and the EFCC, pursuant to the overriding powers of supervision of the administration of criminal justice system vested in my office by virtue of Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
He further explained that, “we have equally made significant strides in implementing the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 in order to progressively deal with existing challenges in the Criminal Justice System, including in the areas of terrorism and associate crimes.
“Let me assure you that as we go into a new budget year, we shall follow-up on all legislative and administrative initiatives that will be required to consolidate on our current successes.”
The AGF disclosed that, the two meetings of the Body of Attorneys General held in July and October, 2016 resulted in the validation of the National Policy on Prosecution, Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Prosecutors and had also commenced the process for the implementation of the Justice Sector Reform Action Plan 2016 – 2017.
According to him, a total sum of N6, 914,774,768.00 (six billion, nine hundred and fourteen million, seven hundred and seventy-four thousand, seven hundred and sixty eight naira) was appropriated for the Ministry in the 2017 Budget.
He also added that out of the amount appropriated; only N886, 394,449.45 and N500, 000,000.00 for overhead and capital was released respectively.
On capital expenditure profile of the Ministry, the HAGF said the sum of N500, 000,000.00 (Five hundred million naira) only had been released so far.
He commended the staff for their dedication and continued sacrifice despite the challenges of resources while soliciting for more support.
A member of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu while cross examining the implementation of 2017 budget appropriation presentation, expressed dissatisfaction on the serious shortfall in release of capital allocation against the personnel cost.
He said that as a Senator who belongs to many other committees and in each oversight visit, he observed that there is higher percentage of personnel cost releases than the capital expenditure, expressing surprise that civil servants are quiet about it.
Adamu then opined that capital project implementation is the basis upon which civil servants render services for which they are being paid. “To me, it appears that without capital project in place, services are not rendered and no basis to pay for services not rendered”, he enthused.