Fagbemi defends ministry’s budget, says judges need chattered flight for safety

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Lateef-Fagbemi
Lateef-Fagbemi

Lateef Fagbemi, minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says there is a need to charter aircraft for judges presiding over terror cases to ensure their safety and confidence.

Fagbemi spoke on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on judiciary to defend his ministry’s budget proposal in Abuja on Monday.

The minister said his ministry needs more resources to carry out its duties, especially in defending the country in international arbitrations “which are expensive”.

“I wish to note that the process of proscription and prosecution of terror suspects and entities entails considerable funding inclusive of catering for the logistics and welfare of judges, prosecutors, support staff, witnesses, and provision of security for the trial, etc,” he said.

“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 aircraft to airlift them.

“The ministry is also spending considerable resources on the provision or upgrading of infrastructural facilities at the various venues to make them fit for purpose.

“It is quite fundamental for the Ministry to be empowered to drive the current administration’s roadmap for the justice sector (legal and judicial reforms) which is one of the vital priority areas under the President’s eight Priorities/Focus areas.

“The office of the AGF requires funding to perform its role of coordinating and overseeing the entire legal or justice sector institutions in Nigeria.

“The AGF is also saddled with onerous responsibilities in the implementation of vital legislations, including the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Cybercrime (Prohibition and Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015, Extradition Act, etc and other international treaty obligations.”

Fagbemi said in the 2023 budget, the ministry was allocated N3,321,283.533 as capital budget N4,688,847,054 as recurrent, noting that only N617,456,896 was released for capital expenditure and N2,734,110,775.62 recurrent.

“The foregoing has greatly constrained the performance of the Ministry in its mandate areas, and we are quite determined to achieve a paradigm shift in 2024, wherein the Ministry has been allocated N5,341,356,849.00 as capital expenditure and N8,860,880,311.10 as recurrent expenditure in the 2024 budget proposal,” he said.

The AGF added that Nigeria would get the maximum from the justice ministry if it is well funded.

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