Alex Enumah in Abuja
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday hosted webinar/virtual interactive session with attorneys-general and Heads of Courts of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
This is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, which was made available to journalists in Abuja .
The meeting, which was part of efforts towards an effective post-pandemic judiciary, involves the deployment of necessary Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in the justice sector in the country.
Malami in a keynote disclosed that in order to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Ministry has improved on its ICT infrastructure to enable it carry out its duties.
“The Ministry has completed the establishment of ICT studios and the deployment of Galaxy Backbone dedicated lines that will facilitate the prosecution of criminal cases as well as the defence of civil cases using the virtual platform,” he said.
According to a statement by his media aide, Gwandu, the minister claimed that the Federal Ministry of Justice being the biggest Law Chamber in Nigeria and probably in Africa, must continue to lead the process of innovation in the administration of justice.
He disclosed that to complement this effort, the Nigerian Correctional Service is also being engaged on the establishment of Studios in the Correctional Centres to make it possible for evidence of suspects in custody to be taken without their physical presence in court.
He also disclosed that ICT is being introduced in the receipt and processing of correspondence between the Ministry and the general public to further minimise the person-to-person contact between the officials of the ministry and members of the general public.
He reiterated the desire to work with stakeholders to articulate a holistic response to the challenges posed by the pandemic to the administration of justice in the country.
The minister also emphasised that there was need for a paradigm shift in the administration of justice through the deployment of appropriate technologies to drive the administration of justice.
He said the purpose of the virtual meeting was to provide the platform for engagement and articulation of our collective views on the issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and harmonise our resolutions on the way forward.
Malami said the advent of the pandemic and the efforts to manage its spread and reduce the human and economic devastation occasioned by the pandemic, have made it imperative to adopt systems that will reduce the physical presence or involvement of persons in the judicial process through the deployment of technology to achieve the same objective for which physical presence was intended.
The minister noted that the justice system is founded on the constitutional principle of fundamental rights to fair hearing that requires the court to hear and determine cases in public and the physical presence of the suspects or parties in court.
He noted that in view of the COVID-19 situation, it has become
imperative for the Government to put in place, legislations and policies that will engender a justice system that promotes social/physical distancing through the application of appropriate technologies in the dispensation of justice and the promotion of rule of law.
He used the opportunity to commend and appreciate the Heads of Courts and Attorneys-General who have already started the process of deploying and applying virtual court rooms and proceedings to promote social distancing and minimize the physical presence of court users.