The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, has flayed the annual insufficient allocation of funds to the judicial arm of government by the federal government.
It, therefore, made a passionate plea for additional funding for the sector in the 2022 Appropriation Bill currently being considered by the legislative arm.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, presented the request before the Senate Committee on Appropriation yesterday at the National Assembly complex.
It was gathered that the Executive arm of government made a provision of N100 billion for the judiciary in the 2022 Budget.
Speaking with newsmen after his presentation before the Senator Jibrin Barau-led Appropriation Committee, Bamidele, who disclosed that his Committee made a request for additional N30billion for the judiciary maintained that, the budget estimate was inadequate, considering the enormous responsibilities before the judiciary.
He said apart from the challenge thrown up by terrorism, there is the need to deploy technology in the dispensation of justice.
“As we speak, there are people awaiting trial as a result of insecurity: call them gunmen, bandits, terrorists – whatever you call them – the truth is, there is so much additional burden on the judiciary. Of course, there must be fair hearing for suspects apprehended, and it is additional responsibility for the judiciary. So, they need more money.
“The COVID has also made it imperative to deploy technology for virtual hearing. All of these demand money. We are talking of all levels of Court: from Magistrate to the Supreme Court, aside the special Court like Arbitration. So, both Committees in both chambers are asking for more money for the judiciary.”
Asked about the secrecy surrounding the budget of judiciary, the Senator dismissed it as a non-issue, saying it was not peculiar to the judiciary.
His words: “It isn’t our responsibility to monitor their expenditure but it is important that whatever is allocated under the National Judicial Commission is judiciously used. The secrecy you talked about isn’t peculiar to the judiciary. No one is asking about the budget of the Department of State Service or National Intelligence Agency.
“Their ( judiciary) budget isn’t up to one per cent of the entire budget. We may choose to sensationalize it, but public interest is better served if the budget of the judiciary is at least, one per cent of the entire budget. We need a well-funded judiciary so that its independence isn’t compromised.”
Also, yesterday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, has also identified poor funding and bureaucratic bottleneck as factors militating against the reactivation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He made the declaration while speaking with newsmen shortly after submitting the Budget of the agencies under his Committee to the Senate Committee on Appropriation.
The former governor of Nasarawa State appealed to the Appropriation Committee to consider special funding for the Solid Minerals sector considering its relevance to the industrialisation drive.
He said: “We found that the much desired growth in this sector may not be easily achievable without very special allocation to this ministry. The president considers solid minerals among the sectors that will drive the process of diversification. But given the paltry allocation to the ministry, such desired expectation may not be easily met.
“I appeal to the committee to consider ways and means of finding a special funding to this ministry otherwise those things the ministry is expected to achieve might not be realisable especially, when we look at the concern and the passion this country has for one of the sectors within the ministry that is Ajaokuta Steel Company.”
Sharing similar thoughts, Senator Smart Adeyemi, noted that, “Solid mineral is very key to our socio-economic development. As a nation coping with large number of unemployed people, this sector is very important. It is key; it will help the nation in terms of job creation and employment opportunities.”
In his remarks, however, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau, called for involvement of stakeholders in government and private sector to achieve the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
“We know a lot of money has been spent to bring about Ajaokuta and now it is in a state of decay, not utilised, so it calls for the involvement of everybody to make sure we resuscitate that important complex,” he said.