The Lagos State government says it has concluded plans to launch the digitisation of courts in the state, in its bid to ensure speedy dispensation of justice in the state.
Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, who is the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, disclosed this on Thursday.
Speaking at the first virtual Bar-Bench Forum 2021, he noted that the coronavirus pandemic affected the digitalisation of the courts as proposed in 2020, but it would be achieved in October 2021.
The commissioner, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), hinted that the government has put plans in place to digitise 10 selected courtrooms at the first stage in the year.
He added that the courtrooms would be equipped with the latest technology to assist the judges and counsels during court proceedings.
“The digitalisation will ensure speedy dispensation of justice to the citizens of the state; the interest of Lagos State citizens is paramount,” Onigbanjo was quoted as saying in a statement by Kayode Oyekanmi, the spokesman for the state’s Ministry of Justice.
He was hopeful that the digital reform would eradicate all forms of paperwork and also make the Lagos courtrooms first-class in Africa.
At the forum, the commissioner spoke on the theme ‘The aftermath of EndSARS protest and Effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the Justice System: Update on effort made so far.’
He urged participants that virtual sitting should be embraced by all, noting that it has been ruled by the Federal High Court to be Constitutional.
“The rest of the world is moving on through the use of virtual sitting; there is a need for us all to embrace digitalisation in the justice sector,” Onigbanjo said.
He stated that a Lagos court had the first virtual sitting during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown which was labelled unconstitutional, but was later ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.
On the destruction of court buildings in the state, the commissioner informed the gathering that the state government had made budget provisions to renovate the destroyed High Courts and Magistrate Courts buildings in the next quarter of the year.
He noted that the state government would provide eight courtrooms at Osborne Foreshore Estate, Ikoyi by the end of April to ease the effect of destroyed court buildings in the state.
In his remarks, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, said the judiciary would be investing more in the digitalisation and ICT-based initiatives in all its legal engagements.
He added that the judiciary sector would take advantage of the aftermath of the EndSARS incident to pursue more ICT programmes aimed at the digitalisation of court proceedings.
“To restore speedy justice delivery in the justice sector, we have identified problems faced by the judiciary as we are working tirelessly to resolve all of them,” he said.
Justice Alogba said the backlog of pending cases at both the State Magistrate and High Courts have been identified and would be looked into accordingly.
He commended the efforts of the state government in identifying the effect of the EndSARS incident on the judiciary sector and ensuring that they function well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.