The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on Thursday explained why details of the budgetary allocation to the Judiciary is shrouded in secrecy.
The panel said releasing the judiciary budget details to the public could be counterproductive as some of the items listed in the budget borders on security issues.
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Chairman of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti), said this while addressing newsmen after he defended his panel’s 2022 budget report before the Appropriation Committee.
The lawmaker had earlier urged the panel to increase the N120bn allocated to the Judiciary in the 2022 budget by additional N10bn to make it N130bn.
He said the proposed funds increment would cater for the issue of virtual court proceedings scheduled to start next year.
Asked why the details of the country’s judiciary annual budgets were still shrouded in secrecy, Bamidele said, Nigerians should show more interest in the utilization of the funds instead of wanting to get the details.
He said, “The secrecy you talked about isn’t peculiar to the judiciary. No one is asking about the budget of the Department of State Services or National Intelligence Agency.
“It is because these are peculiar institutions that when it comes to overriding public interest, overriding national security, we have to be able to do things in a way that the security of the country is not compromised.
“I would be more concerned if we are talking about judiciary that has a budget of a trillion naira or N500bn. But we are talking about a judiciary, which is an arm of government with a budget which is not even up to one per cent of the entire national budget.
“We may choose to create some sensations around the fact that we do not have the details of the judiciary budget. Public interest would be better served by the media, as the fourth estate of the realm, by asking that the budget of the judiciary should be at least one per cent of the federal budget.
“If we go into the sensation of what is the detail of the judiciary budget, there is way that will distract attention from what it supposed to be the primary concern of ensuring that we have a judiciary that is well funded so that its independence is not compromised, so that it does not go cap in hand to other arms of government for survival.”