By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justices, Abubaker Malami on Wednesday said that the Federal Ministry of Justice has saved the nation N4.5 trillion by its effective handling of court cases and claims against the Federal Government.
He disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting where he presented his ministry’s scorecard from 2015 to 2017.
The AGF noted that other areas on the scorecard presented to Council had to do with the prosecution of Boko Haram cases which, he said, is still ongoing.
He said the Federal Government has put in place a committee saddled with the responsibility of coming up with policies and strategies that will bring about decongestion of prisons in the country.
According to him, over 70 percent of the inmates are awaiting trials, adding, there are sizeable number that cannot afford to pay limited fine that have been imposed arising 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 legislation that are before the national assembly that are intended to support the decongestion of prison formation process.”
Malami said his Ministry also made presentations relating to plea bargain to FEC, adding “there are a lot of pending criminal cases in respect of which the accused persons standing trials made offers for plea bargain.”
Also briefing the State House Correspondents, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed that President Buhari has approved various tranches of monies to offset debts owed by Nigeria’s missions abroad.
The most recent intervention was a N7billion released to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
Some of the debts, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs have spanned over one decade.
Onyeama told newsmen that the intervention became necessary when various Nigerian embassies abroad were failing in their responsibilities over paucity of funds.
He said, “government approved special intervention funds to rescue many embassies in distress in several countries of the world.
“First was in 2016 when the Naira was fluctuating terribly against the dollars and our embassies were receiving a rate that were too low to sustain them. We received initially N16.3 billion, and 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 were 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 was $28 million and it 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 up 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 handy and of course in the interest of transparency we wanted to show how these funds had been disbursed.”
Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, presented high nutrient biscuit developed and proposed for inclusion in the federal government’s School Feeding Programme.
He said the high nutrient density products will provide at least a third of the desired major macro and micro nutrients requirement stipulated by the World Health organization, Food and Nutrition Board.
He added: “Additionally, the products will be produced by NASCO Foods Limited, Jos that have state-of-the-art processing equipment with vast experience in Food processing, Food Safety and quality for production and supply chain nationwide.
“The developed nutritious products have been tested using Nasco Food processing facilities in Jos and have been found to be technically and economically viable.
“The pupils in the schools in Jos and Lagos where the sensory evaluation and consumer acceptability studies were done showed strong likeness for the products and are ready to consume the products if included in the school feeding programme.”