A senator representing Gombe North Senatorial District, Bayero Usman Nafada, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to be circumspect in the decision of who becomes the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Senator Nafada said Nigeria needs a justice minister whose track record, zeal and patriotism tally with the zero-tolerance-for-corruption mantra of the president, stressing that this will be necessary if the anti-graft war and other programmes targeted at rejuvenating the economy will be a success.
The senator, who was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives during the 6th Assembly, alleged that corruption in the judiciary was endemic, adding that the huge judgement debts are clear evidence of the rot in the ministry.
The lawmaker adduced that under the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in the immediate past administration, Mohammed Adoke, the ministry paid at least N14 billion in questionable legal settlements.
In all, he alleged that during the 7th Assembly alone, there were alleged questionable lawsuits that had accumulated to a whopping N90 billion judgment debts against the federal government.
The huge judgement debts had generated hiccups as the 7th assembly instituted a probe into these cases, following claims that officials of the Justice Ministry prodded litigants to file claims, while they offered frail defence on government’s behalf.
“I was speaking against the background of the issues in the ministry which are already in the public domain. That is why it is incumbent on the President to look very critically before appointing whoever will man the justice ministry. If that ministry fails, the war against corruption has failed, and that will be a slight on the government of change which the All Progressives Congress, APC, represents,” he said.
Nigertian Pilot Saturday recalls that former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at a budget briefing in April 2012, had threatened that the N12 billion provided in the 2012 budget for judgement debts would be the last ever made for clearing judgment debt in the budget.
She had insisted, “Henceforth, if there is an issue in any sector, then that sector would have to pay for the judgment debt out of their budgets, because any time government starts providing for anything in Nigeria, all of a sudden an industry would begin to build up around it.”
Only last week, the 8th House of Representatives directed its Committee on Financial Crimes to probe alleged non-remittance of court forfeited properties and funds by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, running into N1trillion.

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