President Muhammadu Buhari, has submitted a request to the Senate, seeking approval to pay off a total of $566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00, and N226 billion in judgment debts owed by the Nigerian government.
The debts are attributed to various federal ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) through the issuance of promissory notes.
The letter of request by Buhari was read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan during a plenary session.
The President’s letter highlighted the approval granted by the Federal Executive Council on March 29, 2023, for the settlement of priority judgment debts and general judgment debts owed by MDAs.
The proposed settlement involves the issuance of promissory notes that will be redeemed over time through allocations in the federal government’s budgets.
The letter emphasized the need for Senate consideration and approval for the settlement of the top priority judgment debts and general judgment debts incurred by Federal MDAs.
The amounts in question are $566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00, and N226,281,801,881.64.
The President requested the Senate’s resolution to authorize the settlement through the issuance of promissory notes.
The Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were designated to provide any additional information required by the Senate.
In a separate statement, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), disclosed that the current administration had successfully obtained convictions in 397 terrorism cases and had prosecuted 7,000 crime and anti-corruption cases over the past eight years.
The convictions were secured from a total of 3,000 terrorism-related charges, half of which were filed.
Also, the settlement of these judgment debts had received approval from the Federal Executive Council during its meeting on March 29, 2023.
However, a recent report by The Cable revealed allegations by the Office of the Auditor-General (OAGF) that the Ministry of Justice had not followed due process in disbursing funds allocated for judgment debts.
The OAGF report highlighted that between 2017 and 2018, N10.4 billion had been earmarked for judgment debts, and this amount was disbursed without the required committee oversight.
The report further noted that the ministry had not constituted a committee for this purpose since 2013.
The Senate’s public accounts committee, chaired by Senator Mathew Uhroghide, representing Edo South, examined the OAGF’s report.
The committee concurred with the OAGF’s recommendation that the Ministry of Justice should cease the disbursement of funds and promptly establish a panel to oversee the payment of judgment debts.