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Judgment debts are increasing, but the Justice Ministry has no funds to pay them

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According to Mrs. Beatrice Jeddy-Agba, the Federation’s Solicitor-General, the Ministry of Justice did not receive any funding for the collection of judgment debts.

At a forum in Abuja on accessing remedies for human rights breaches in Nigeria, Permanent Secretary in the ministry Jeddy-Agba made this announcement.

She was represented by Mr Enoch Simon, director of the litigation division of the Attorney General’s office, and she stated, “Since 2019, the Federal Ministry of Justice has not received any budgetary allocation for settlement of judgment debt.”

She expressed disappointment that, despite the country’s legal infrastructure, it was still difficult for the government to pursue issues involving basic rights in a timely manner and to ensure that court orders were followed.

She lamented the regrettable frequency with which the ministry was had to pay judgment debts stemming from the illegal conduct of law enforcement agencies and agents.

Judgment debtors are often security or law enforcement organizations because of their role in causing violations via both overt and covert means.

However, the Ministry of Justice is brought into the fray when the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is named as a nominal party in a lawsuit or when a judgment creditor applies to the AGF for approval under subsections (1-3) of Section 84 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act.

According to NAN, she said, “As a matter of due process and FGN Financial Regulations, it is the policy of the Federal Ministry of Finance that payment of judgment debt by any agency must be based on clearance by the Attorney-General and requisite budgetary appropriation.”

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The Solicitor General has stated that the Attorney General receives referrals from debtor agencies about judgment debts.

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