CLEEN Tasks FG, Judicial Agencies to Digitize Criminal Justice System

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By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The federal government and other judicial agencies have been tasked on the need to digitize the criminal justice system to create more accessibility to judgments on corruption-related cases in the country.

The Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, who made the request, said there is need for Nigerians to have access through Internet modes to judgments being dispensed on corruption cases to stem the tide of the scourge.

Olugbuo, who spoke in Ado Ekiti on Monday during a workshop on ‘Trandparency and Accountability in the Administration Criminal Justice System(ACJA)’, said it has established resource centres in eight states of the federation where citizens could have access to cases that have connections with grafts and allied matters.

Olugbuo, represented by the Executive Director in charge of Legal, Mrs Esther Mabadeje, said creating such an ICT platform would be good for research in the legal profession and also expose efforts being made by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-graft agencies to tackle pilfering of public funds.

The programme was organised in partnership with Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP).

Olugbuo said the digitization efforts will help in the quick dispensation of justice on corruption-related cases.

“The idea of the resource centres was conceived under the project centred on Promoting Accountability and Transparency in the Administration of Criminal Justice System in Nigeria.

“The project is targeted at the digitization of court proceedings/judgments in Nigeria with a view to promoting accountability and transparency in the fight against corruption.

“The project principally seeks to monitor cases of corruption in relation to ACJA 2015 through a web based open source application called Uwazi https://cleen.uwazi.io/en/ with functionality that includes search, filter, tracking of changes on documents, cross reference and ability to view or download court rulings within the reach of the public,” he said.

Olugbuo added that the concept of digitization of court cases is not new, saying electronic legal documentation has been firmly established and stable in Austria since 1999 and in the United States.

“If we must have an efficient criminal justice system that is poised to ensure the diligent prosecution of all cases of corruption, the critical mass of men and women on the criminal justice chain all along the line from top to bottom must be men who are manifestly willing to birth the dreams encapsulated in the innovative aspects of the ACJA, 2015. To achieve this dream, the tool of technology must be employed to monitor the successes as well as the gaps in the implementation of the laws,” he stated.

Speaking at the forum, the GRIP Executive Director, Mrs Rita Ilevbare, said the resource centre in Ekiti State will ensure that every interested Nigeria has access to documents on corruption cases.