The President of Nigerian Bar Association,Paul Usoro SAN has made a case for the integration of Information and Communication Technology into the activities of the court to ensure justice delivery .
In his speech delivered at the opening of the new Legal year of the federal High Court in Abuja, he also congratulated the Judges of the Federal High courts on their bold rulings and preservation of rule of law.
“…rule of law is that superstructure from which all other policies, governance principles, positions and rights take their compass and direction.”Paul Usoro
He also expressed his concern about the public vilification of judges which has done an unfair damage to the reputation of the court.
“It therefore pains us, as lawyers, when the Judiciary is erroneously perceived and characterized as the problem in Nigeria. It pains us when they are vilified and demonized in a manner that would tend to cow and intimidate them.” Paul Usoro
“We truly damage our justice administration system when we, public officials and lawyers alike, openly vilify and condemn our entire judiciary and judges” Paul Usoro
In making a case for information technology,he said-
“…permit me, My Lords, to respectfully draw Your Lordships’ attention to some areas – all related to information and communication technology – which in our respectful view, may require some adjustments by Your Lordships. The first relates to electronic recording of Your Lordships’ court proceedings; such recordings would not only enhance speedy hearing and determination of matters but would confer attendant health benefits on Your Lordships. Happily, speedy trial of matters has been improved by the now entrenched practice of mandatory filings of written addresses and front-loading of processes. This has eliminated the need for hand-recording of Counsel’s submissions and examinations-in-chief of witnesses. But then, the Court is still tasked with the hand-recording of cross-examination and re-examination proceedings and indeed the proceedings of the court not to mention the adumbration of Counsel’s addresses.”
“These constitute a large volume of the daily proceedings in our Courts and the process of hand-recording these proceedings by Your Lordships is not only tedious and deleterious to Your Lordships’ health but is also time-consuming and often times occasion disjointed and incoherent flow in the proceedings. We believe that pervasive electronic recording of proceedings would reduce the tedium of proceedings and enhance the speed of trials not to mention the consistency that would be thereby imbued in the thought flow/process and comprehension of the proceedings by all the parties, the Bench and the Bar inclusive. Happily, the Supreme Court has set the pace in this regard and we believe that the Federal High Court, as the primus inter pares amongst the High Courts of the Federation, should follow suit and not lag behind in that regard. Be assured, My Lords, that the Bar stands ready to partner with Your Lordships in bringing this to fruition and more importantly, in institutionalizing and ensuring the integrity of such an electronic-recording process – a critical component of our proposition that would give confidence to all relevant stakeholders.”
“Our second suggestion is on the need to develop and publish a readily-available information, statistics and database on this Honorable Court’s activities. I raise this point because, in the course of preparing this Address, I needed to know how many cases were filed before this Honorable Court in the 2017/2018 Legal Year, how many cases were pending at the beginning of that legal year and how many cases were disposed of by Your Lordship within that Legal Year. I was, inter alia, hoping to determine from those statistics how long, in the average, a case may last before Your Lordships these days. In my search for these pieces of information, I headed to the Court’s website, the portal where publicly available information and data about the Court and its activities ought to be published – indeed, the Court’s window to the world. Alas, no such information was at the portal and no such information is publicly available. The downside to this paucity of information is that the members of the public are left with wild speculations and rumor some of which might be injurious to the Court’s reputation and integrity. Indeed, mischief-makers thrive in such climate.”