On the 2nd of February, 2018, the Supreme Court of Nigeria lunched the Electronic Mailing System with the aim of providing effective and efficient means of communication.
Read the Remarks by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb (UK).
My Lord the Chief Justice of Nigeria, I am delighted to join you this morning to witness the commissioning of the Supreme Court of Nigerian electronic mailing system. This indeed marks a major milestone in our journey to moving the Nigerian court system to a new and modern system that will be driven by information and communication technology.
There is no gain saying that the world is moving to a new era of digital economy. A world driven by a fast evolving new technology that this completely transforming every field and facet of human endeavor. The Nigerian judiciary and indeed the legal profession is a late comer to this new era. Nigeria’s private sector has long embraced this new technology. Many organizations have achieved near complete digitalization of their operations. Take the Banking and Financial Industry sector for instance. Many of us will remember not too long ago, how we had to queue up for hours in our banks to cash cheques across the counter. Now, practically every form of payment can be made or received on your hand held devise from practically any location. Many of us will remember how we had to rush to airports to purchase paper tickets and then queue up to check into the flight and run to board the aircraft. Even with your tickets you were never certain that you had a seat. Now most of us will purchase our air tickets remotely and even check-in online without interfacing with any human agent. Today some of us attend paperless board meetings. We access hundreds of pages of board papers from board portals, review them make annotations and circulate from our hand held devices without any human interface.
My Lord, the launching of the e-mail communication system is a bold initiative and a clear testimony that we moving in the right direction. The e-mail system will undoubtedly ease communication between the court and the bar, will reduce paperwork, speed up the court process and thereby improve the administration of justice. It is a major step in the attainment of the objectives set out in the Judicial Information Technology Policy of the Nigerian Judiciary lunched in July 2012 with the broad mission of fully integrating ICT into our Court System.
Much as we have reason to celebrate this milestone, we must however remind ourselves that we are still far from where we should be. Email services are only one and perhaps the most basic of the several components of the information and communication technology infrastructure that we must roll out. Others include fully digitized document management system, case management software, electronic filing system, electronic payment platforms, electronic and virtual libraries, video conferencing facilities efficient and effective internet and intranet services etc. These obviously require a lot planning and resources.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the transition to the digital world is the human dimension. The digital economy involves a major paradigm shift in the way we think and behave. It is often note easy for grownups to make this transition. It will require a lot training and retraining. Unless the training is done effectively and consistently, many people will be unable to adapt. They will rather stick the old ways they familiar with and for which their brains have accustomed to. We must also pay attention to the recrafting the rules of court to accommodate these new changes.
My Lord, while congratulating and commending you on this initiative, I will like to pledge the support of the bar. Indeed this fully aligns with our own vision of the transforming the bar. Our membership data is now completely captured electronically. As you may recall, our election was for the first time in 2016 conducted electronically. During our last Annual General Conference, we distributed 12,000 computer tablets fully loaded with various legal materials, including law reports, rules of court and various statutes. We are currently in the process of building the infrastructure for delivering online training platforms for our continuing legal education programs. All these efforts are part of overall strategy of pushing lawyers into the new digital age. I am confident that our members will have no difficulty adjusting to the new e-mail communication system.
I will like to conclude these brief remarks by once more congratulating my Lord the Chief Justice of Nigeria Hon Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen, the ICT Implementation committee and indeed all those that have made this a reality.
I thank you for attention.
ABUBAKAR BALARABE MAHMOUD, OON, SAN, SFNLI, FCIArb (UK)
PRESIDENT, NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION