Lawyers Advocate Improved Internet Services for Successful Virtual Court Hearing

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Some lawyers in Ibadan have called for improvements in the internet services across the Nigerian society in order to achieve success in virtual court hearing.

The lawyers, in separate interviews with News Agency of Nigeria, spoke on the effort of judges geared toward conducting virtual court hearing in the country in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mr Johnson Akintayo, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, said Nigeria could not afford to continually lag behind among the committee of nations, especially in judicial matters.

Akintayo added that one of the positive aspects of the COVID-19 was the fact that it facilitated the conduct of court hearings through the virtual or internet, which many countries of the world had since adopted.

”It is no longer news that COVID-19 has affected almost all aspects of our lives, including court processes, hence, the need to avoid physical presence.

”However, the question to ask is: are we truly prepared for the use of virtual court hearing?
”The answer is no, due to infrastructure challenges. But we cannot remain on one spot while the rest of the world is on the move.

”Adequate technology that would drive the virtual initiative must be in place if court processes on internet must move to the next level.

”Also, there should be regular training of the personnel like judges, lawyers and supporting judiciary staff members that could aid the delivery,” Akintayo opined.
The NBA branch chairman said the call for an amendment to the constitution before the deployment of the ICT initiative was unnecessary.

According to him, the judicial system cannot be left to remain stagnant.
He further said that although criminal trials required physical appearance of the accused persons in courts so that the judges could read their countenance, there must be a way out of the problem.

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The legal practitioner stated that with virtual hearing in place the nation could move forward.

Also, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Mr Adebayo Ojo, stated that the epileptic nature of the internet facilities in the society was worrisome.

”A situation in which there is constant fluctuation in internet services can be discouraging and may continue to cause delays in hearing.

”However, I strongly believe that things will improve with time, if we continue the experiment,” Ojo stated.

NAN recalls that judges of the Federal High court were recently directed to commence the use of virtual court hearing in adjudication of court processes.

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