Business digest Rivcomis: Rivers becomes first with automated judicial system
The judiciary in Rivers State has been automated. By this, all cases would be filed by litigating lawyers by electronic system called e-filing. The cases would be recorded electronically while proceedings are on in the court sessions.
When hearing is over, the lawyers will wait behind for about an hour to review the recordings and walk away with the ruling. This is RicCOMIS in operation. This transformation is expected to enhance court processes and make it easy and effective.
The most striking aspect is the crowd opposite the high court where touts make a killing by helping people to obtain affidavits may disappear because e- affidavits system has emerged whereby persons can file and obtain an affidavit right from their homes through e-affidavits system.
Cataloguing of all lands has been done such that any land anyone wants to purchase, the system would give the status of the land especially to help buyers know if a parcel of land is encumbered.
The e- Probate system would make letter of administration to be digital and would be handled electronically.
The automation scheme is being executed by Cinfores, the group making waves in ICT in Nigeria, pushing Nigeria on the global IT map with some of the most scintillating innovations such as a software (Brainfriend) that now brings schools to homes through 70,000 solved questions with answers and working scheme, class-work, games, and other features that make a child learn like in a classroom.
The CEO of Cinfores, Ibifuro Asawo, who is also the special adviser to Gov Nyesom Wike on ICT, explained at the unveiling of the Rivers State Judiciary Automation programme that Rivers State is the first to hit this level of automation in the delivery of justice in Nigeria.
The unveiling took place at the Chief Judge’s court (Court One) in Port Harcourt last week Friday, October 9, 2020, where the Chief Judge, Adama Lamikanra, led in the review of the instant recording of proceedings to test-run the new system.
She led some other judges and top lawyers including OCJ Okocha (SAN) in asking questions to enable Cinfores get it right. It was agreed that the typed work be shielded from the open court on the screen.
Some lawyers wondered if the review of typed work by both parties would not cause delay. The designers responded to all questions and solutions were reached.
Explaining details to newsmen, the Cinfores CEO said proceedings of a going case would be typed realtime as proceedings went. “As soon as the hearing is over, both lawyers can go through the typed proceedings and get copies of a ruling in an hour. It is graduation to a digital system. The needed band wave to carry the connectivity is available and the Rivers State government has provided the requirements. All payments will be done electronically”. He said all courts are connected in the e-filing.
He told Businessday later: “What we tried to demonstrate is the pilot court room technology, which is to help judges have verbatim reporting to ease the long hand they currently use for recording proceedings in the court. The issues raised by the lawyers and judges after the demo is how it can be deployed to give the most effective desired impact. That has been addressed and we have moved on to deploy the pilot to run in the two pilot courts.”
He said the deployment would rather reduce burdens and drudgery on judges and the judicial system in recording the proceedings of counsels and their witnesses. He said training has been done for all the lawyers, judges, registrars, and others to enable them to handle all the required eprocesses as introduced by the automation of processes.
He made it clear that there are no experts from Nigeria or abroad serving as consultants to the Rivers State government on Rivcomis, saying the platform is a Nigerian solution for
the improvement of justice administration. “We have professionals who have seen the best outside the country including some of the judges and judicial officers who are working with the ICT committee to ensure the effective implementation of the platform.”
He said touts no longer have a place to manipulate people. “The touts no longer have a place. The biggest gainers are the citizens, and the biggest losers are the touts.”
The designing of processes for any organization seems to require deep understanding of the operations of that organization or agency. It thus makes for deep understudy. Asawo said; “This is part of our profession. We must understudy any sector before we delve into implementation of any automated service to support the sector. It is not a load or burden. It is what makes us come alive. We are wired to be solution-providers and we enjoy doing just that.”
He said Rivcomis would deliver higher number of treated cases per year, improve accuracy of justice or verdicts, and boost revenue tremendously.