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How virtual courts will boost economy, justice administration, by Malami

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
07 December 2021   |   4:06 am
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, maintained that adoption of virtual courts will boost Nigeria’s economy and its justice administration.

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, maintained that adoption of virtual courts will boost Nigeria’s economy and its justice administration.

He noted this during the launch of virtual courtrooms at Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja, a project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the government of Japan.

Stressing the need for “a paradigm shift in administration of justice, through deployment of appropriate technologies”, Malami insisted virtual court proceedings are in compliance with provisions of Section 36(3) of the Constitution, which provides for public court sitting or hearing.”

Malami explained: “(These) are not private hearings but open to the respective counsel involved, the litigants (inmates) and general public.

“It is important to note that virtual court hearing will not in any way contravene the provision of Section 36(6) of the 1999 Constitution, which provides for arraignment, taking of evidence, tendering of documents, cross-examination and general conduct of criminal proceedings. In as much as these are done in accordance with the said provision, the virtual hearing would be valid.”

He added: “This initiative will in no small measure help boost the economy by ensuring that funds meant for the movement of inmates would be channeled to other essential areas of needs in correctional centres and assist the country in meeting up with global best practices in the administration of criminal justice.”

UNDP Deputy Country Representative, Mr. Lealem Berhanu Dinku, noted that the launch would help reduce cases of sexual abuse against women and the time spent on trial.

“This programme is designed to support the court system 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 hear cases without transporting inmates to physical locations.

“In turn, this will help to reduce backlog and the time spent in pre-trial detention, while also helping to reduce administration and operational costs,” Dinku said.

Controller General of Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa, on his part, said deployment of virtual court hearing will help to solve logistics challenges of the agency.