Buhari seeks Senate’s nod to pay $556m, £98m, N226bn judgment debts

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Senate to approve the payment of $556 million, £98 million and N226 billion judgment debts owed by the Federal Government.

Buhari explained that the sums were awarded in litigations against different ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government by various courts, through the issuance of promissory notes.

Judgment debt refers to money that a court of law orders the losing party to pay to the winning party. The parties in the case may be an individual, a family, a company, an institution or a government.

A promissory note is a debt instrument that contains a written promise by one party (the note’s issuer or maker) to pay another party (the note’s payee) a definite sum of money, either on-demand or at a specified future date, according to Investopedia.com.

Federal Government promissory notes are paid from the general revenue and assets of the Federation.

A letter written by President to request the approval of the payment was read by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, at plenary on Wednesday, May 24.

Buhari explained that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the settlement of the judgment debts at its meeting on March 29.

The request is coming five days to the inauguration of a new administration on May 29.

Parts of the letter read: “The Distinguished Senate President may wish to be informed that the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of March 29, 2023, approved the liquidations of top priority judgement debts and general judgement debts owed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies through the issuance of promissory notes.

“The judgement debts are to be settled through the issuance of promissory notes which will then be redeemed over time through provisions in the budgets of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Thus debt securities have been issued for the settlement of the judgement debts and approval of the National Assembly is required for this purpose.

“In view of the foregoing, I wish to request the Senate to kindly consider and approve through its resolution the settlement of the top priority judgement debts and general judgement debts incurred by Federal MDAs in the sum of USD566,754,584.31, £98,526,012.00 and N226,281,801,881.64 through the issuance of promissory notes.”

Buhari added that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, will provide any information that may be required by the Senate for the consideration of the request.



    In October 2022, PUNCH reported that Buhari’s government may pass on at least $715.86 million judgment debts to the next administration.

    According to the PUNCH report, the $715.86 million judgment debts were listed as 18 promissory notes in a document titled, ‘Schedule of Promissory Notes Issued by Category as at March 2022’ by the Debt Management Office (DMO).

    In May this year, the Senate indicted the Federal Ministry of Justice for its alleged failure to show how N10.4 billion judgment debt was disbursed to the beneficiaries.

    The indictment of the Ministry followed the consideration of the 2017 and 2018 reports of the Senate Public Accounts Committee.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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