The House of Representatives on Wednesday accused the Justice Minister, Mohammed Bello-Adoke of draining the Nigerian economy through the payments of judgement debt and other legal settlements.
According to the lawmakers the sum of N14 billion has already been lost through the justice ministry.
The government’s judgment debt profile presently is above N90 billion.
The lawmakers therefore mandated its committee on Justice to investigate the accumulation and payments of judgment debts by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The House directed the Justice Committee to carry out a thorough investigation into questionable lawsuits that has accumulated more than N90 billion judgment debt against the federal government and report back in 21 days.
The House also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to suspend the payment of judgment claim to Interstella Communications Limited, and other payments pending the outcome of the investigations.
The decision followed a motion on the matter raised by Robinson Uwak (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who expressed concern that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice has been “wittingly or unwittingly encouraging the procurement of judgment debts against the Federal Government, thus the need to verify the processes.”
“The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has a duty of representing the government of Nigeria and protecting fully, its pecuniary and other interests,” Mr Uwak said.
“This must be in all contractual transactions, including litigations brought against it by parties,” he said.
The lawmakers suspect there may be a scheme that has been in existence for years in which some government officials instigate suits that exploited government’s weak structures and then shared in the proceeds of the claims.
While moving the motion to constitute a committee to probe the matter, Mr Uwak accused the Office of the Attorney General of encouraging judgment debts against the government through negligent prosecution.
He cited the case of the AGF’s decision to commence payment of over N14 billion in judgment debts to a telecommunication company while the case remained in court.
The suit, between Interstella Communication Limited and NITEL, is currently before the Court of Appeal. While the court is yet to deliver judgement on the case, the Attorney General had commenced payment of N14 billion as claims to Intersella, Mr Uwak said.