The National Judicial Council (NJC) has announced guidelines for the use of technological for the speedy dispensation of justice for the period of COVID-19 pendemic. In a statement by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, the NJC approved virtual sittings for all head of courts using collaborative platforms such as MS365, Zoom, Google Meetings and other tools with electronic recording functionalities.
In the guideline titled “National Judicial Council COVID-19 Policy Report: Guidelines for Court Sittings and Related Matters in the COVID-19 Period”, the NJC also said social media channels would be used to live stream court proceedings to the public while the court shall publish on a weekly basis the matters that would be heard remotely for that week.
“Physical sittings by courts in courtrooms should be avoided as much as possible during this COVID-19 period. Such physical court sittings must be limited only to time bound, extremely urgent and essential matters that may not be heard by the court remotely or virtually.
“Heads of courts have the responsibility for determining the matters that fall within these set boundaries and publish the list thereof for the information of judicial officers, litigants, counsel and members of the public. Such list may be reviewed by the head of the court from time to time as necessary and required.” The NJC also approved face masks, social distancing measures and temperature tests in the court premises.
The NJC had at its 91st Meeting on April 22 set up a committee headed by Supreme Court justice, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour to devise guidelines and measures to enable safe court sittings during the period of the pandemic in cooperation with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.