COVID-19, Catalyst for Digitalisation of Nigerian Courts – Official

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A group, Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary (FIACIJ), said the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted some court sittings should serve as a catalyst for the digitalisation of Nigerian Courts.

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Mr Bayo Akinlade, the National Convener of FIACIJ, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday, noted that the Presidential lockdown order, which led to the shutting down of courts, had revealed technological lapses in the Nigerian court system.

“While other African countries have adopted technology in keeping the courts open in response to COVID-19, our nation’s courts have struggled to respond adequately.

“Technological advancement is inevitable and sooner or later we will have no choice than to set up the necessary infrastructure in this regard.

“We cannot overemphasise the importance of this because the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

“Lawyers and litigants can have their cases heard without being physically present, spending less money and time on litigation. A judiciary that dispenses justice quickly encourages economic growth in a nation.

“When a wrong can be remedied almost instantly and people can get justice timely, there will be less crimes committed and businesses will thrive,” he said.

Akinlade said the FIACIJ observed that the judiciary had various internal challenges ranging from infrastructure to transparency.

He said there was also a lack of political will by the various heads of courts to employ technology in boosting the effectiveness of the judiciary.

“The level of corruption is high in the judiciary and adopting technology will definitely expose some of the corruption within.

“There is also concern as to the integrity of the online platforms to be used and the possible disputes that may arise from the use of technology.

“In all this, there is largely a sense of lack of political will on the part of the current heads of court to break tradition and move away from the analogue systems.

“There is now a spotlight on the judiciary and it is becoming obvious that the monies allocated to the judiciary has not been utilised judiciously,” he said.

The FIACIJ convener noted that the Nigerian heads of courts should use the funds available to them to transform the judiciary to modern technological standards.

“FIACIJ is ready to partner with our judiciary to monitor the digital transition and to ensure that the technology platforms are secure,” he said.

NAN reports that on March 23, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Mohammed, ordered the suspension of all court sittings except for urgent matters for 14-days.

On April 6, the CJN also ordered that the nationwide suspension of courtroom sittings should be extended for another 14 days.

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