The Ministry of Justice has been accused of committing financial infractions after disbursing N10.4 billion without following due process. Officials of the ministry were also said to have spent N32.5 million on foreign travels without approval, a new report by auditors from the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation disclosed.
The N10.4 billion was said to have been released for judgement debt. It means money that a court of law orders the losing party to pay to the winning party. The parties in the case may either be an individual, a family, a company, an institution or a government. The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said that about N150 billion remained unpaid.
No control over disbursement: The Ministry has been disbursing funds without a committee saddled with the responsibility of managing the disbursement of judgement debt. The last committee was dissolved in 2013.
According to the auditor, the Ministry of Justice disbursed N10.4 billion in 2017 without the committee on ground. The report by the Auditors said public funds could be lost if there isn’t control over the disbursement.
“Examination of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Justice revealed that the sum of N460.95m was appropriated for payment of judgment debts for 2016 and N10bn appropriated for 2017, totalling N10.46 billion.
“Further examination revealed that the committee saddled with the responsibility of managing the fund was dissolved after the 2013 financial year and is yet to be reconstituted after the 2016 and 2017 appropriations.
“However, the ministry has been disbursing this sum without a committee in place. Lack of control could lead to loss of public funds.”
[READ MORE: FG stops N50 charge on POS transactions)
The Auditor-General for the Federation, Anthony Ayine recommended that, as required by law, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice should immediately set up the committee.
Unapproved foreign travel funds: It was also stated in a Punch report that officers were paid estacodes and return air tickets, worth N32.35 million, between March and September 2017 without approval. According to the audit, the Ministry’s inability to attach evidence of approval from the Head of Service (in the case of the civil servants) and approvals from the President (in case of a minister) was a violation of the provision of the circular HCSF/CSO/HRM/POL.1420/1 dated January 22, 2015, and HCS/PS/SPSO/244/1/26 of July 25 2016, respectively.
“Incurring expenditures without necessary approvals could lead to loss of public funds. The Solicitor-General of the Federation and permanent secretary is requested to recover the sum of N32.35m and pay to Consolidated Revenue Fund and evidence of recovery forwarded for my confirmation,” Ayine said.
Also, a total of 68 payment vouchers amounting to N71,19 billion which was paid between March and August 2017 were not produced for audit in violation of section 85(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Financial Regulation 108, and according to Ayine.
“I cannot certify the payments a legitimate charge against public funds. There may be risk of misappropriation and misapplication of funds,” he added in the report.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 58,062 confirmed cases.
On the 25th of September 2020, 213 new confirmed cases and 2 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 10,526 samples across the country.
To date, 58,062 cases have been confirmed, 49,606 cases have been discharged and 1,103 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 494,577 tests have been carried out as of September 25th, 2020 compared to 484,051 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 25th September 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 58,062
- Total Number Discharged – 49,606
- Total Deaths – 1,103
- Total Tests Carried out – 494,577
According to the NCDC, the 213 new cases are reported from 17 states- Lagos (51), Plateau (51), FCT (29), Rivers (18), Ondo (12), Oyo (9), Osun (8), Gombe (7), Ogun (7), Kaduna (5), Enugu (4), Edo (3), Jigawa (3), Kano (3), Benue (1), Delta (1), Sokoto (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 19,174, followed by Abuja (5,644), Plateau (3,373), Oyo (3,248), Edo (2,620), Kaduna (2,389), Rivers (2,305), Delta (1,801), Ogun (1,796), Kano (1,737), Ondo (1,620), Enugu (1,289), Ebonyi (1,038), Kwara (1,028), Abia (881), Gombe (864). Katsina (848), Osun (826), Borno (741), and Bauchi (692).
Imo State has recorded 566 cases, Benue (481), Nasarawa (449), Bayelsa (397), Jigawa (325), Ekiti (317), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (259), Adamawa (237), Anambra (234), Sokoto (162), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (87), Zamfara (78), Yobe (75), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
Lagos launches N5 billion support fund for 2,000 low-cost private schools
The Governor said the facility will benefit low-cost schools with amounts ranging from N500,000 to N5 million.
Lagos State government has launched a N5billion support fund to help reduce the impact of Coronavirus pandemic on low-cost private schools in the state.
This was disclosed by the Governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu via his Twitter handle on Friday.
According to him, the educational sector is one of those severely impacted by the pandemic, with schools and vocational learning-centres shut since March.
He said, “With access to funding for privately owned schools and vocational training centres in the state, we are confident that this programme, under the partnership between First Bank Nigeria and Lagos State Education Trust Fund (LSETF) will help accelerate a sustainable return to learning and skills acquisition.”
Today, I launched a N5bn support fund to help reduce the impact of #COVID19 on low-cost private schools in Lagos. The educational sector is one of those severely impacted by the pandemic, with schools and vocational learning-centres shut since March. #EducationMeetsFunding pic.twitter.com/PrKjLhxBXq
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) September 25, 2020
He explained that the facility will benefit 2,000 low-cost schools with amounts ranging from N500,000 to N5 million.
“As a responsible Government, we are obligated to provide interventions that would enable learners in schools study in line with the new normal,” the Governor Sanwo-Olu added.
The Chief Executive Officer, First Bank Nigeria, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, said “With this partnership, we are sure that registered educational institutions in Lagos State will have access to funds at subsidised interest rates to meet their needs as they reopen at this auspicious time.”
Paga Group relocates to the UK
Oviosu announced that he is very excited about moving to and working with the UK government.
Paga Group has redomiciled from Mauritius to the United Kingdom (UK). The group is the holding company for its operations in Nigeria, México, Ethiopia, and the UK.
This was disclosed by the Chief Executive Officer and founder, Paga, Tayo Oviosu on Friday.
The Paga Group has redomiciled to the UK 🇬🇧!
The Paga Group is the holding company for our operations in all countries – Nigeria, México, Ethiopia, and the United Kingdom.
Very excited about this move and look forward to working with @tradegovuk to promote trade with the UK!
— Tayo Oviosu (@oviosu) September 25, 2020
Why it matters: The company took the decision due to bureaucratic challenges it faced last year.
He said, “The laws and courts of Mauritius are not very fast-moving, and the rules are difficult. I’ve had one court case that was eventually thrown out after a year.
“In the UK it would have been thrown out immediately, and the person would have had to pay us for our lawyer fees.
“Basically, not an easy place to do business. It is more painful than useful. I say stick to good ol’ America or UK or Netherlands or Luxemburg. Where you know there are professionals, and the legal system works.”
Oviosu said he is very excited about the move, looks forward to working with the UK government to promote trade with the UK.
The Paga Group has raised $34.7 million in funding so far, according to Crunchbase.