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Lagos recovers N1.24b debt for residents through mediation

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• Receives 39,586 legal cases, mediates 30,017
• Targets yearly 30% IGR increment, additional tax-payers

The Lagos State Government yesterday said it had facilitated settlement of N1,242,765,569 debt among residents through mediation in the last one year.

The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), who disclosed this yesterday at the yearly ministerial press briefing, said the sum came out of the 22,896 cases that were amicably resolved among parties by the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC).

He said the CMC, which is an agency under the Ministry of Justice charged with the responsibility of providing free legal services to residents, received 39,586 cases for mediation in the last one year, out of which 30,017 were mediated.

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According to him, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received a total of 1,092 case files in the period under review, and issued 1,079 legal advice, out of which 1,148 information and proof of evidence were filed in court.

On the other hand, he said the Directorate of Civil Litigation defended the 144 cases that were filed against the state government in the State High Courts, Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in the last one year; secured 40 judgments and concluded a number of cases, with reduction of contingent liability for government.

He added that the State Office of the Public Defender (OPD), saddled with the responsibility of providing legal aid and other related functions to the masses, especially the less privileged and the vulnerable, received a total of 427 petitions and 690 criminal cases in the last one year.

Beside, the commissioner said the Commercial Law Directorate of the ministry drafted over 100 agreements from May 2019-May 2020 on behalf of the state government, while 14 major agreements were concluded.

In another development, Lagos State government yesterday said it hoped to yearly increase its Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR) base by 25-30 per cent.

The Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, who disclosed this at the ministerial press briefing, said the state government had rolled out strategies to keep its finances intact, in spite of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

He said that though the direct impact of the pandemic led to a drop in the state’s IGR and federal allocation, potential decline of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and increased pressure on income and purchasing power of the people, the state government had in swift response re-ordered the 2020 budget and re-prioritised its capital expenditure to reflect current realities.

Olowo said the state government would boost its IGR base through expanding its tax net, while at the same time supporting small businesses.

The commissioner, who pointed out that government plans to roll out policies to bring onboard the informal sector into its tax net, said that the state would continue to strengthen its revenue base and ensure that opportunities are optimised.

According to him, the Debt Management Office (DMO) has been upgraded by the present administration into a full-fledged semi-autonomous unit to promote governance, efficiency and controls in the management of the state’s debt.

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