FG Saves N4.5tn from Court Cases in Two Years

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• Buhari approves N7bn to offset embassies debts

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The federal government wednesday said it had saved N4.5 trillion from its defence of cases filed against it in various courts.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who made this disclosure after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also said about 15 politically exposed persons had entered into plea bargain with the government.

Malami who said he presented the scorecard of his ministry to FEC, added that the account of the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in various courts was presented to the council.

“In respect of federal Ministry of Justice, what was presented to the council today (yesterday) is the score card from 2015 to 2017. The federal government has put in place a committee saddled with the responsibilities of coming up with policies and strategies that will ease off congestion of prisons.

“Over 70 per cent of the inmates are awaiting trials. There are sizeable number that couldn’t afford to pay limited fine that have been imposed by them arriving from their convictions.

“There are those awaiting trials that have never seen the court room for over five years and above and indeed, there are multiple legislations that are before the National Assembly that are intended to support the decongestion of prison formation process.

“We equally presented a score card of as both civil and criminal cases that were prosecuted by the Federal Ministry of Justice and their implications as to savings that were done for the government commencing from 2015 to the present time.

“Fundamentally, arising from the cases that were conducted by the Federal Ministry of Justice, the ministry has succeeded in saving the government around N4.5 trillion relating to the claims that were presented in respect of these cases which were indeed conducted and concluded.

“Added area over which we presented our scorecard has equally to do with the prosecution of Boko Haram cases which are ongoing. We presented a position as to the number of cases that were prosecuted, number of convictions that were procured and the number of discharges that were made relating to the cases and then made a presentation as to the roadmaps for the continuation of the process.

“There were other presentations that were made particularly as it relates to plea bargain. There are lots of pending criminal cases in respect of which of the accused persons standing trials made offers for plea bargain.
“Again there are high profile cases that we made our score card and gave an insight as to their respective positions. A presentation was made relating to national prosecution team as it relates to the cases they are expected to prosecute.”

Also briefing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave a directive for the release of N7 billion to Nigerian embassies that are in serious financial distress.
He said: “Special intervention fund to rescue many embassies destroyed in several countries of the world. First was in 2016 when the naira was fluctuating terribly and of course, the dollars our embassies were receiving were too low to sustain them.

“We received initially N16.3 billion, and it was successfully distributed to all embassies. The second one was N933 million for renovations and other debts released in October, 2017.
“The third was $32 million that was released for critically distressed 65 missions that were in serious debts and crisis. This was approved in November 2017 and we are in the process of distributing to the embassies around the world.

“Another one, $28 million and is in the process of also being distributed and finally for ministry headquarters, the sum of N7 billion was made.

“A lot of the debts and the crisis in our embassies and missions around the world have been building over the last 10 years and Mr. President decided that he will no longer accept the situation where we are sending Nigerians out to represent this country and not given them the resources to be able to carry out their tasks. Hence he made provisions and directed that these funds should be released to them.

“So, the situation is still not perfect but this has come in very handily and of course in the interest of transparency, we wanted to show how these funds had been disbursed.”
In his briefing, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said FEC approved the construction of Ibadan-Kaduna rail line at the cost of $6.7billion.

He also said the council approved the reconstruction of the 20 year-old Bill Clinton Drive on Abuja Airport Road at the cost N1.9 billion.

Disclosing that the contract was awarded to CCECC, Amaechi said a contract of N273 million was also approved for supply of water treatment chemicals to the FCT Water Board.