The Role Of Technology In Transforming The Nigerian Judiciary -By Jacob Eze

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INTRODUCTION

 

It is expedient to start on the note that it is a generally accepted notion that, it is hard to get things done in the dark and ironical to get it done in the light; hence, technological light has made the operation of things easier in Nigeria as against the earlier darkness of things. However, the judiciary is not an exception. Nigeria’s technological sector has developed wings over the years whilst ascending the climax of greatness with less than 1% of GDP.  Moving away from that, Nigeria has won over South Africa- clinching to herself Africa’s largest technological market with 23% users of the technology with an equivalent 122million users in December 2018 according to internet world stats, 2019. The effect of technological advancement has caused development in the judiciary over the years. However, this essay attempts to unmask the role of technology in ensuring the effectiveness in the role of the judiciary, with its immense benefits in the courts in Nigeria and the legal education in the country while bringing to bear its immense benefits.

The importance of the technological role in the Nigerian judiciary remains a relevant function in setting the pace for transformational trajectory and to take the Nigerian judiciary one day at a time for quick and effective justice delivery in its proceedings. It is a generally acclaimed philosophy that the success of any judicial system can be gauged on its power of providing timely response to parties as touching their rights, obligations, and duties in respect to lawsuit. However, it is quite disheartening that the Nigerian judiciary can not be reckoned with such a fast system, the time for delivery a verdict on a case by the Nigerian judiciary ranges from 7 to 20 years, this is aptly adapted through various cases such as the case of Ekperokun v. the University of Lagos, where it took the High Court seven years to discharge a judgment on wrongful termination of employment, also at the Appellate Court level, the time is even longer. In Maja v. Samouris, it took nine years to final judgment at the Supreme Court; in Obasohan v. Omorodion it took 16 years; in Ekpe v. Oke, it took 17 years; in Onagoruwa v. Akinyemi, it took 21 years; and in Nwadiogbu v. Nnadozie, it concluded in 23 years and many other notable cases. As against this heavy delay in the Nigerian Judiciary, the technological role will catalyze a speed of the justice delivery system in the Nigerian judiciary while preventing an unnecessary delay.


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Moreover, one of the prominent advantages of the technological role in the Nigerian judiciary is that the backlog of undecided cases will be decided, the endless stream of undecided cases keep on flowing in the Nigerian judiciary, a rentable assessment, portrayed by the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, showed that in the 2009/2010 legal year, it accumulated 6,109 undecided cases while the 2010/2011 legal year had a complete 9,083 cases pending which was an increase of 30%. He theorized that in the same 2010/2011 legal year, the court owned about 17,269 cases to deal with compared to 12,269 in the previous year which was an increase of 5000 cases more. Other commercial and megacities like Lagos, Kano, and Rivers have the same surprising statistics. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeal are found in the same backlog scenario. Due to the volume of appeals ascending the climax of the two courts, especially on interlocutory matters, the dockets of these courts are overflowing. However, with the technological instrument, a lot of proceedings can be undertaken simultaneous and plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses, lawyers, judges, Clark, and so on can be reached through conferencing applications like zoom, google meet, telegram, and much other technological aids which can aid the undecided cases to be decided within a short time.¹²

Moreover, the role of technology in Nigerian judiciary has become the revolutionary pace for new dawn of proceedings. The technological breakthroughs at the global stage has immensely bridge the gap in the justice delivery landscape in the judiciary. This has assisted in all judicial processes both at facie & ex facie; such as those connected with electronic documentation which aid the risks of lost of files, the use of microphone in court proceedings, scientific operation at the court registry, substituted service via online mail and adoption of electronic system in case accessibility. The role of technology has not only laid down significance in the judiciary alone, but has also gave a green light to emerging areas of law such as Fintech, crypto & tech law, telecommunication law, etc. Therefore, welcoming employment opportunities for lawyers and other judicial officers to explore and delve in. However, despite the aforementioned benefits of technology in the Nigerian Judiciary. Few errors in scientific operation might result in judicial processes. A case study is the End SARS judicial panels blaming computer for errors in reports. Not to talk of erroneous incidents leading to the fall of justice and creating means for perpetrators in perverting  justice.

In conclusion,  The judiciary, and the profession of law itself, is a traditional industry where decisions are made by referencing past cases and legislation, some of which are many decades old. Thus, initially, many lawyers and judges expressed reservations about moving from the conservative text based approach to using technology to support their work. However, this is not the story nowadays as technology is now used in all large corporate firms, and most small firms in Nigeria and around the world. Today, it is a generally accepted view that the role of technology in Nigerian judiciary is capable of  improving efficiency, increased accessibility, and has the more general effect of promoting confidence in the justice

system, the role of technology in the Judiciary cannot be undermined has it aid delivery of justice in Nigeria legal system and risks of lost of file and evidence can be erased totally. However, the use of technology should not be used to pervert justice in any form and by going by this, Nigerian judiciary will be efficient in their proceeding through technology.

 

Jacob Eze, a law undergraduate at the University of Ibadan

Jacobeze306@gmail.com


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