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‘Judgements on websites’ — Malami highlights plans of digitising judiciary

‘Judgements on websites’ — Malami highlights plans of digitising judiciary
April 20
22:15 2020

Abubakar Malami, minister of justice, has rolled out plans that his ministry intends to effect in the country’s judicial system.

The courts have not been working optimally following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

However, in a statement on Monday, Malami listed information communications technology (ICT) as a tool the judiciary could use to cover “lost grounds.”

Some of the changes sought by the minister would need to be backed up by laws enacted by the national assembly and effected by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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“Empowering the institutions of the ACJA, 2015 to commence functioning immediately,” Malami said.

“The net result will galvanize the judicial sector into rapid mode to fast track trials and release of those who are deserving. Deployment of ICT facilities to fast-track taking evidence from witnesses. Digital platforms such as Skype and Zoom can be used.

“NTA stations across the country can be connected to courts to facilitate taking evidence as witnesses do not have to necessarily be physically present in court.

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“Ensuring that court dockets have only few cases per day can reduce the number of persons in courts. So, all the pending judgments should be drafted and concluded during a short period of time. This does not require lawyers to be present.

“Once the judgment is ready, the lawyers should be able to receive them in their email or it should be posted on the court’s website for any interested party to download it. This is the way to go and thus provide greater transparency.”

The AGF proposed that persons awaiting trial on minor criminal charges should be discharged, especially in cases where adjournments have been at the instance of the prosecution.

“Setting aside special dates and that courts work extra hours to decongest their case files. The 2020 court vacation could be suspended as the COVID 19 lockdown period has provided judges with the much-needed break from official duties,” he said.

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“Having courts that are fully IT-compliant in order to fast track the digital recording and production of the record of court proceedings.

“Appointment of more judges and justices, as appropriate. Additional judicial decisions of federal courts are to be created. This will, as a proactive measure, help in decongesting the already loaded court hearing schedules.”

The minister said all courts can accept electronic transactions and only receive receipts of payments.

“The way to go in effect, Court Proceedings should also be handled in a manner that reduces the number of persons in the courts at any given time,” Malami said.

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“Although this requires the movement of suspects from prisons to the courts, all such suspects should be tested, in fact everyone entering the court premises should be tested to ensure that they are not already positive, thus risking the lives of other people.”

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