• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Innovation seen as key to effective administration of justice post Covid-19

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Adoption of innovation, strong will, and discipline in the administration of Justice will help to guard against misplaced justice situation in Nigeria, post COVID-19 pandemic, Olanrewaju Adigun Fagbohun, vice-chancellor, Lagos State University, says.

Fagbohun decries the suspension of a court sitting in the country pursuant to the directive of the Chief Justice Nigeria as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, without clear guidelines and directives that would ensure that the wheel of justice does not grind to a halt.

According to Fagbohun, it has become very fundamental to adopt strong will, discipline and innovation in order to achieve an effective administration of Justice System in Nigeria, post COVID-19 pandemic.

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He observes that as things currently stand, post-COVID-19 in terms of civil/criminal cases already leave no room for optimism, as “Deliberate pro-active strategies must be put in place to change the paradigm.”

Fagbohun, speaking as a guest speaker on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Administration of Justice in Nigeria, What does the Future Hold?” at the 2020 Knowledge Sharing Series, a virtual lecture organised by the LASU Law Alumni graduate class of 2008, noted that COVID-19 was a wake-up call for Nigeria, urging the judiciary (lawyers and judicial officers) to fully go digital.

“The Judiciary in Nigeria must fully go digital. It is not rocket science and enough of excuses. Let us have robust and open internet access in all courts. There are existing templates that will guide digitisation of court processes,” he said.

The senior advocate of Nigeria, Fagbohun, identified four commendable global justice system responses: 1) suspension of in-person proceedings to safeguard people’s health; 2) implementation of technology tools to continue proceedings in urgent or necessary situations; 3) keeping track of proceedings that are daily being postponed, and 4) pro-active thinking on such issues like the effect of a statute of limitation and forfeiture as may arise post-COVID-19.

He reminded the over 100 participants that the Lagos State Judiciary started well on the path of technology. Somewhere along the line, the challenge of continuity of policies clearly stagnated innovation. There is also the need for an audit of processes and operations to know whether the different activities are on track.

“In the Lagos State Judiciary, online listing of cases, Case Management System, E- filing system, use of verbatim recorder among others was already in use for quite some time.

He concluded that “For as long as Nigeria continues on the same path as is currently, administration of justice will continue to fail on deliverables.

The learned silk also took a swipe at legal practitioners and judicial officers who have turned our courts to the theatre of repression and injustice.

“For as long as we tolerate indiscipline, Nigeria’s Judiciary will continue to wallow in failure. We must advance the highest standard of conduct among lawyers and judges”, he said.