Funke Busari, Lagos
Effort to ensure speedy dispensation of Justice in Lagos State is underway, especially in the direction of the digitization of courts in the State.
This was disclosed to stakeholders of the justice system on Wednesday at the first virtual Bar-Bench Forum 2021 by the Lagos State Judiciary in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice.
According to the Chief Judge of Lagos State Honourable Justice Kazeem Olanrewaju Alogba, the Judiciary will be investing more in the digitalization and ICT based initiatives in all its legal engagements.
He said the Judiciary sector will take advantage of the aftermath of the EndSARS incident to pursue more Information Communication Technology, ICT, programmes aimed at the digitalization of Court proceedings.
Justice Alogba also said, “To restore speedy justice delivery in the justice sector, we have identified problems faced by the Judiciary as we are working tirelessly to resolve all of them.”
Alogba said the backlog of pending cases at both the State Magistrate and High Courts have been identified and will be looked into accordingly.
The Chief Judge, acknowledged the efforts of the State Government in identifying the effect of the EndSARS incident on the Judiciary sector and ensuring that they function well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lagos State Attorney-General/ Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, disclosed that the coronavirus pandemic affected the digitalization of the courts as proposed in 2020 but would be achieved in October 2021.
The Commissioner for Justice further said, the government has put plans in place to digitize 10 selected court rooms at the first stage in the year.
He added that the courtrooms will be equipped with the latest technology to assist the judges and counsel during court proceedings.
“The digitalization will ensure speedy dispensation of Justice to the citizens of the State. The interest of Lagos State citizens is paramount,” Onigbanjo said.
According to Onigbanjo, he said the digital reform would eradicate all forms of paperwork and also make the Lagos courtrooms first-class in Africa.
While speaking on the theme, titled, “The Aftermath of EndSARS Protest and Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic in the Justice System: Update on Effort Made So Far, Onigbanjo urged participants that virtual sitting should be embraced by all, emphasising that it has been ruled by the Federal High Court to be constitutional.
“The rest of the world is moving on through the use of virtual sitting, there is a need for us all to embrace digitalization in the Justice sector,” he said.
He recalled that a Lagos Court had the first virtual sitting during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown which was labeled unconstitutional but was later ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Speaking on the destruction of Court buildings in the State during the EndSARS protest, Onigbanjo informed the gathering that the State Government had made budget provisions to renovate the destroyed High Courts and Magistrate Courts buildings in the next quarter of the year.
Onigbanjo noted that the state government will be providing eight court rooms at Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi by the end of April to ease the effect of destroyed court buildings in the State.