…as Senate Laments Soaring Judgement Debts
Federal government has decided to constitute panel that will investigate nine contracts signed by previous administrations which were in breach of due process and procedure which has the capacity to undermine nation’s economy.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami who made this known while appearing before Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele disclosed that the P$ID contract that was signed without due process and procedure has the capacity to rip off $10 billion from Nigeria.
In 2017, the tribunal awarded P&ID $6.6 billion as damages. But, the amount grew to the about $8.9billion with an additional $2.3 billion in accumulated interest at 7 per cent rate per annum following Nigerian government’s refusal to enter an appeal for over five years.
Malami while responding to questions from the members of the Committee explained that the P$ID contract was never ever allowed to pass through the office of the Attorney General and the account of that there are embedded in the contract clauses that inimical to Nigeria’s interest.
He said that Taskforce set for that purpose will spent N1.1 billion in 2022 to carry out holistic Investigation on nine other contracts signed against the interest of the country by previous administrations.
He said, “It is the Taskforce that is intended to review the existing problematic contracts that have the capacity to undermine the economy in line with the P & ID; a kind of lessons and experience.
In the office of the Attorney General, there exists two fundamental departments relating to getting of contracts. Solicitor Department is charged with vetting any governmental contract and they have lived up to expectations over time.
“But the major problem with P & ID is that contract was never ever allowed to pass through the Office of the Attorney General for getting. So, on the account of that there are embedded in the contract clause that inimical to the interest of the nation.
“Because of the fact that there is a preliminary conspiracy among the key promoters of the contract, the contract was never allowed to pass through the Federal Executive Council, FEC for its approval, neither was it allowed to pass through the Federal Ministry of Justice for vetting.
“The existing structures are there, but they can only act in respect of contracts that are referred to the department. For example, as it is now, even though in respect of government contracts, arising from the fact that China is involving certain clauses regarding immunity which some ministries and departments are willing to compromise, they are not allowed to pass.
“We have developed need for other circulars that these are intended clauses that could be tolerated in public interest and the interest of the nation in mind were attached.
“What I’m saying in essence is that the Taskforce is poised at looking at it.
In respect of P&ID, there were about nine contracts that were signed at the same time in breach of due processes and procedures. ”
In his opening remarks, The Chairman lamented soaring Judgement Debts which has become National embarrassment demanding urgent action about the development from the Ministry of Justice.
Bamidele said, “;It is also pertinent to state that the judgement debt progile of the country keeps soaring without corresponding response from government in order to address the situation.
“This development is now viewed as a national embarrassment and necessary action must be taken to ensure that the image of the country is protected .
” In this regard , I implore you prioritize your budget and make a case for legislative intervention where necessary, in order to ensure that this area of concern is critically looked into, with a view to proffering the much needed solution.”
The Ministry proposed N11.8 billion for 2022 budget . The Personel cost – N3.9 billion, overhead cost (exclusive of Legal Services) – N2.4bn , Legal Services – M2 billion , Capital budget- N3.5 billion.
All parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Justice also appeared before Bamidele led Committee to defend 2022 budget.
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