Nigeria launches virtual Court Sitting Facilities

Peter Bahago, Abuja


The Nigerian Government has launched a virtual court sitting technology in correctional facilities to ensure speedy dispensation of Justice and decongestion of custodial centres across the country.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, at the launch of the innovation at Kuje Correctional Centre stated that the system would speedy dispensation of trials in line with the Nigerian Constitution.

“This system would equally ensure speedy dispensation of trials in line with section 36(4) of the Constitution which provides that every person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time. 

“It would also eliminate the issue of difficulties in conveying the inmates to court and would further ensure the safety and security of the inmates and law enforcement officers,” he said.

According to Mr Malami, the project was initiated to ensure the hearing and determination of urgent and time-bound cases, using the digital platform.

“We are no longer constrained by mobility, space and time in the justice delivery on account of accommodation of the virtual court sitting facilities and deployment of incidental technology.

“Notably, our justice system is founded on the constitutional principle of fundamental rights to fair hearing that requires the court to hear and determine cases in public and the physical presence of the suspects or parties in court.

The AGF also noted that the Virtual Court Proceedings are in compliance with the provisions of section 36(3) of the Constitution, which provides for public court sitting or hearing.

“These Virtual Court Proceedings meet up with the expectation of the Constitution and are not private hearings but open to the respective counsel involved, the litigants and the general public at large, he said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Administration of Criminal Justice and Reforms Department in the Ministry of Justice, Leticia Ayoola-Daniels, expressed hope that these virtual court facilities will feed into the already existing virtual court sittings that are in the judiciary, and by so doing fast track the dispensation of court cases while saving costs on security and mobilization of accused persons.

The UNDP Nigeria Country Representative, Lealem Dinku said the programme was designed to support the court system to accelerate the hearing of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence/Harmful Practices/Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights/Violence Against Women and Girls civil and criminal cases and will allow judiciaries to hear cases without transporting inmates to physical locations.

The project will help to reduce the backlog and the time spent in pre-trial detention while also helping to reduce administration and operational costs.

The project was funded by the UNDP, with funds from the government of Japan (Supporting an Inclusive & Multi-Sectoral Response to COVID-19 and Addressing Socio-Economic Impact).



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