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NJC laments naira crash on capital projects’ execution

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The National Judicial Council has lamented that the fall in the value of the naira against the United States dollar frustrated the capital projects of the judiciary in the 2021 fiscal year.

It said the affected projects will be rolled over into the 2022 budget for completion.

The Executive Secretary of the NJC, Ahmed Saleh, while appearing before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Judiciary in Abuja on Wednesday for budget defence, noted that components of the capital projects that had to do with forex were adversely affected.

Saleh said, “As of October, we have been able to access almost 80 per cent of the total funds appropriated to the Nigerian judiciary and we have equally been able to reach some remarkable milestones in the sense that our budget was, as of October, about 73 per cent in terms of performance and implementation.

“Also, you may recall that the exchange rate of naira to dollar as of December 2000 was N380 to $1. By May this year, the naira had further depreciated to N570 to $1.

“This economic woe has seriously caused a major challenge in our budget implementation and performance, most especially on projects and services that have foreign exchange components. We have made adequate provisions in this year’s budget to cater for some of these major projects to the point of completion,but due to this depreciation and inflation, we certainly cannot achieve total completion.

“What this means by implication is that we may have to roll over some of these projects to next year and we may also have to make provisions to cater for the same.”

Chairman of the committee, Onofiok Luke, in his opening remarks, hailed the government for raising the allocation to the judiciary from N110bn to N120bn in the 2022 budget proposal.

Reps condemn raid on Odili’s home

The lawmaker, however, warned of the dire consequences of incessant raids on the home of judicial officers, with the recent involving a Justice of the Supreme Court, Mary Odili, in Abuja.

Men of some security agencies had on October 29 stormed Odili’s residence on Imo Street, Maitama, Abuja, on the strength of a purported tip by a whistleblower, Aliyu Umar.

Luke said, “Of great importance to this committee is the security of judicial officers. We have stated as a committee that we should create an enabling environment, not only a working environment, not just good living conditions, but a secure environment for our judicial officials to operate without any fear of intimidation or harassment.

“That is why we condemn the attack on Honourable Justice Mary Odili, the Justice of the Supreme Court. We ask that this should not repeat itself. It happened in 2018, 2017 too. This should not be allowed to repeat itself because we are weakening the morale and strength of our judicial officers.”

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