Apr 26, 2020

Technology; Best option for Nigeria Judiciary | Adeleye Adebola Valentine


The Nigerian judiciary noticeably started its operation in the year 1979 and since, it has subjected itself to the habitual practice of both parties to a suit being present physically for the hearing of the case which is at times dangerous and expensive to maintain. It is dangerous and expensive in the sense that processes are served physically at the last known abode of the defendant or respondent as the case may be and the person served might not even be within the jurisdiction of the court and he has to risk his life, take time that is needed to attend to business or family issue to travel down to the jurisdiction of the court.

The practice of physical service of court processes and full appearance in court continued since its inception the judiciary in the country till the outbreak of the pandemic which hinted the judiciary that hearing of law suits could not go on during the pandemic and some cases are left pending in court. The innocent are left to suffer behind the bar for what they know nothing about at the mercy of the virus. The judiciary has been, is and will forever be viewed as the last resort for the masses but when cases are pending in court and the innocent are kept behind the bar for what they did not do, then could it be said that the judiciary is the last resort for the masses? No! truth be told, the virus is easily transmitted amongst crowd and at court sittings, it will be transmitted faster than we could think of, then it is time for the judiciary to wake up to what they had been sleeping on since which is to welcome the advent of Internet Court for the hearing of law suits. Court processes could be served using WhatsApp, e-mail, telegram and any other electronic method which is far credible than service at the last known of abode of the individual. But with the look of things right now, I think the judiciary is just waiting for the pandemic to be over and get back to its traditional way of hearing suits.

Students of the 2019/20 session of the Nigerian Law School did their examination from January 10 to 17 2020 and the result was supposed to be released on the 29 of February 2020 and the Call to Bar ceremony in March which was before the breakout of the virus in the country. Students and parents were anxious of the day, only to wake up to the news that the release date has been postponed till the ending of March and the Call to Bar ceremony in July for some reasons best known to the Body of Benchers, Council of Legal Education. Since the students and the parents are at the mercies of the bodies, they accept the new dates and keep hopes high towards the dates. Unfortunately on the date they were to release the result, it was postponed again because the body could not meet to decide on the result since the federal government had announce total lockdown in the country and that there should not be any gathering more than fifty (50) people. Now the release of the result is postponed indefinitely. The students are neither lawyers nor Law students. Companies and establishments across the globe make use of different online meeting platform like Join.me, Zoom, ezTalks Meetings, etc. to discuss matters affecting their transactions with each other when they know that meeting physically is not visible. Since the bodies in charge of conducting examination for prospective Lawyers know that the meeting is crucial to the release of the Bar Final result, the meeting could have been held making use of other means to conduct the meeting. The question that comes to my mind anytime that I think of the Bar Final result been hoarded is, peradventure the lockdown continues till the ember months, is that how the students will be held in the dark and not know their fate in the examination they studied so hard and sat for? If the Council of Legal Education and the Nigerian Law School can put the present students on notice that the school will commence online classes, why can’t the same body conduct their meeting online and approve the result? Will the students continue to suffer what they know virtually nothing about?

It is high time the Nigerian judiciary wake up to reality, brace up and try to meet up the level of technology in the dispensation of justice in the country and in the total carrying out of her duty. If Nigeria choose to continue in the tradition way as it is used to, then of what use is technology if the judiciary cannot embrace it? Members of the Bench and the Bar should be well equipped by the Nigerian Judicial Council and Nigerian Bar Association for the members to be prepared to welcome this new development. Reliable and fast internet services should also be provided at the courtrooms across the country so that there won’t be any breakage whenever internet court session is going on. If Nigerian judiciary refuses to wake up from her slumber and brace up to meet with the standard of other states, then justice will continue to be deprived of the masses whose cases are delayed in court because NO ONE knows when the lockdown will be over and God forbid there is an outbreak of another deadly disease than this. Will the courtroom to be shut down forever or should the masses subject themselves to jungle justice?  WAKE UP!

 

ADELEYE Adebola Valentine, Ministry of Justice, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. 08108173996 or av_debola.1@yahoo.com

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