Group Launches Podus AI to Help Nigerians Get Access to Justice

Sunday Okobi

A group, Citizens’ Gavel, has launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform called Podus AI to assist indigent Nigerians to get access to justice as well as legal research assistance. The app is basically 98 per cent of Nigerian law.

The group explained that the Podus AI is trained to point to the direction of prioritising cases of emergency like police extortion, brutality, fundamental rights issues, illegal arrest, and illegal detention. It helps to solve the situation that actually threatens the freedom or the fundamental human rights of the average Nigerian.

Citizens’ Gravel said the platform has been made easy and it is user-friendly, “just visit the site, create a case there and it gets assigned to a lawyer, who sees you get justice. It also works through the WhatsApp app by chatting with the mobile number 2347067951851 or the mobile app, or use the SMS which will be launched in the next quarter.”

At the launching of the Podus AI assistant platform in Lagos, recently, the Operations Lead, Oluwafemi Ajibade, a lawyer, said the goal of the project in its simplest of form is to help the most vulnerable in the society to get access to justice, adding that it is to provide solutions to their most basic legal problems, which is the essence of the unveiling of the app to the public.

He added that their target audience “is the abused, victims of human rights abuse and gender-based violence or maybe those intimidated by an employer, a landlord or by someone of a superior authority that might want to exploit or intimidate them. Those are the targets of this project.”

Ajibade disclosed that the programme has garnered a great reception, “and we got very good quality feedbacks both positive and negative, which of course we are going to incorporate into the ‘Platform’ to make it better and more useful for the people that need it.”

On the major challenge it would face from the ’push-backs’ from lawyers, he stated that at the end of the day “the point or the purpose of the AI is not to take away the work of the lawyer so to speak. It is actually meant to compliment a lawyer, to ease the work of the lawyer. For example, every facet of the professional atmosphere in Nigeria is being short-staffed, and we don’t have enough lawyers or doctors to cater for every need of the people. So, for lawyers or for legal problems generally, AI will help lawyers reduce their workload. It helps to tailor their work to that very aspect they’ve helped render by taking away the needs of this professional advice.

“At the end of the day after using the ‘Platform’, you still need the help of a legal practitioner to represent you in court and help you do the documentation. The point of the AI is not to take away the work of the Lawyer but to compliment and make their work easier.”

Also, the Team Lead of Citizens’ Gavel, Nelson Olanipekun, told journalists at the unveiling event that: “The AI for Justice platform represents a noteworthy advancement in our mission to empower Nigerians to confidently navigate the legal landscape and access legal resources through AI technology. We firmly believe in Podus AI’s potential to enhance legal processes, making them more efficient.

“People are now empowered to write well-crafted petitions or letters to file complaints against injustices leveraging various complaints centres of government such as Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman, FCCPC, and States’ Mediation Centres among others.

“As long as you’re a Nigerian, and the legal issues fall within Nigeria, you have access to the AI, and the AI is capable of helping you based on the law that applies to where you have resided in Nigeria.”

Olanipekun added that: “We were intentional about accessibility, so that is why we went via WhatsApp because of billions of user accessibility, and other medium such as website, internet, mobile apps too to further help the adoption of the programme,” adding that the Podus AI will be programmed to also use pidgin English as an innovation.

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