Ministry Of Justice and Attorney General of State

Benue State Ministry of Justice is essentially a professional and service oriented ministry established to render legal services to the government of Benue State and all its agencies.

The ministry is very imperative for the smooth running of the machinery of government in general and the administration of justice in particular.

Mandate:

  1. To render proficient legal advisory services to the government of Benue State, thus covering all ministries, departments, parastatal, the state legislature and the judiciary with the view to attaining social and legal justice, public order, public security and good governance in the state. And also render similar services to the Nigerian police in Benue State in criminal justice administration.
  2. To initiate, takeover and continue or maintain criminal prosecution(including appeals) of all State offences(and some federal), in Magistrate courts, Tribunals, High courts, Federal High Courts, Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
  3. To prosecute and defend(as the case may be) all civil rights and other proceedings in which the Benue State government is a party or has substantial interest in any part of Nigeria in all courts and tribunals throughout the country.
  4. To represent the interest of Benue State government in all legal matters whenever they may arise.
  5. To complement the judiciary in the administration of justice to all.
  6. To establish and maintain area Chambers and Rent Tribunals in all Benue State Local Government Areas where there is a High Court Division.
  7. To act as Administrator-General and Public Trustee in the administration of estates of deceased persons in Benue State.
  8. To establish marriage registries and conduct and register marriages under the marriage act.

Structure:

The ministry is structured into the following directorates, each headed by a director:

  1. Administration and Finance.
  2. Public Prosecution.
  3. Civil Litigation.
  4. Legal Drafting and Advisory Services.
  5. Citizens’ Rights.

There are also area chambers in:

Each Benue State local government area chamber is incorporated with a rent tribunal that performs the functions of the ministry at their levels under the directive of the Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice.

In addition, the ministry has a marriage registry which conduct marriages under the marriage act. The ministry through an appointed legal officer, serves as a public trustee and Administrator-General of estates of deceased persons.

Parastatals:

The ministry is parent to the Citizens’ Mediation Centre which has a separate budget and an establishment law, 2008. Its housed in the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights.

Functions Of The Directorates

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Administration And Finance Directorate

This directorate is responsible for the day to day administration of Benue State Ministry of Justice. This entails the management of human, material and financial resources of the ministry.

It consists of:

  1. Personnel section headed by the staff officer.
  2. Accounts section headed by the accountant.
  3. Open registry headed by the senior executive officer.
  4. Secret registry also headed by a senior executive officer.
  5. Maintenance unit headed by a higher executive officer.
  6. Stores headed by a senior stores officer
  7. Library headed by a library officer.

The Directorate has the responsibility of:

  1. Managing both human and material resources of the ministry.
  2. Coordinating and harmonizing the activities of the various departments of the ministry.
  3. Maintaining nominal and pay rolls of the ministry.
  4. Handling staff matters including placements, promotion, supervision, discipline and welfare issues of the ministry.
  5. Maintaining the registry correspondence and information management of the ministry.
  6. Responsible for the security of the ministry’s premises and property.
  7. Preparation of budgets.
  8. Production of accounts.
  9. Keeping records of ministry’s vehicles, plants and equipments.
  10. Assessing training needs of staff of the ministry.
  11. Maintaining stores of the ministry.
  12. Handling receipts and payments.

Public Prosecutions Directorate

This directorate is charged with the responsibility of exercising the Attorney-General’s powers under Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution(as amended) by initiating and prosecuting criminal cases. It also renders legal advice to the police and other paramilitary outfits as well as government ministries and parastatals.

The directorate also oversees the functions of the Advisory council on Prerogative of Mercy under the Chairmanship of the Attorney-General.

Directorate Of Civil Litigation Directorate

This directorate handles all civil matters instituted either against or at the instance of the government and its ministries, agencies and parastatals.

It also oversees and supervises the rent tribunals and the marriage registry in Benue State.

Marriage Registry:

The ministry in conjunction with Benue State Chapter of the family support programme initiated and commissioned a marriage registry in Makurdi on May,1995 located within the FSP Complex, High Level Makurdi.

The registry conduct marriages under the marriage Act from which it also generates revenue for government.

Legal Drafting And Advisory Services Directorate

This directorate is responsible for the drafting and or vetting of all substantive or subsidiary legislation handled by the ministry as well as vetting contract agreement for government, ministries and agencies and offer legal advisory services to them.

In addition, the directorate vets constitution of voluntary association under the Voluntary Association (Registration) Law Cap172, 2004 before such association can be registered by the appropriate government agency.

Citizens’ Right Directorate

This was established in 2003 primarily to facilitate easy access to justice by indigent or vulnerable groups like women, children and people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA).

The directorate uses alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods to facilitate resolution of dispute outside the normal court adversarial system.

The directorate consists of Five units:

  1. Citizens’ Mediation Centre.
  2. Office of the Public Defender.
  3. Human Rights Unit.
  4. Publication.
  5. Consumer Rights Protection Unit.

Of all the units of the directorate, only the Citizens’ Mediation Center is in operation though the Human Rights Unit sometimes embarks on human rights watch by visiting prison formations in Benue State in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.

The Citizens’ Mediation Centre, however is a creation of Law of the Benue state House of Assembly. That’s the Citizens’ Mediation Centre (establishment) Law, 2008 and it has a separate budget just like any parastatal.

The centre provides a platform for the resolution of a wide range of disputes such as family matters, landlord and tenants as well as recovery of small debts among others. It creates a forum for the quick, less formal and cost free access to justice for the vulnerable and indigent in the society.