Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Vice President, and Justice Tanko Muhammad, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), have both urged for a complete embrace of technology in the administration of justice in Nigeria.
The Vice President, who praised the Supreme Court for approving virtual court sessions, said technology has improved the country's democratisation of law and justice.
He urged indigenous legal and technology firms to develop purpose-built solutions for the administration of justice, emphasising the federal government's commitment to assisting them in adapting to new global realities fueled by artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technology solutions.
In his remarks, the CJN alluded to the Supreme Court's recent huge leaps forward in adopting court management software, demonstrating a significant shift from the analog system of adjudication. He reaffirmed the judiciary's support for emerging technologies that speed up the administration of justice to Nigerians.
They both spoke during a two-day virtual conference hosted by LawPavilion Business Solutions Limited, Nigeria's leading legal technology business, in conjunction with Telnet Group.
The opening and introduction of the E-Library of the Laws of Lagos State on the LawPavilion platform by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN), Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State, was one of the highlights of the conference.
The e-library platform, which is being developed in conjunction with the Lagos State Law Reform Commission, would make the laws of Lagos State easily accessible and relevant to Lagosians and the general public.
The Lagos State Annotated e-laws on platform will also use machine learning and artificial intelligence to emphasise how the courts and the general public interact with the laws. This strategy will ensure that future laws and judicial rulings are data-driven, with a finger on the pulse of the general public.
The LawRights App, a LawPavilion solution for the general public to know and understand their constitutional rights, have access to lawyers and law firms from within the app, and, if necessary, initiate the adjudication process where rights have been abused or trampled upon, was also unveiled at the conference.
Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that access to justice and upholding the rule of law will remain a mirage as long as the average citizen is unaware of his legal rights or lacks widespread access to regulatory bodies and government agencies that can ensure that citizens' rights are not violated.
He praised the LawRights App, calling it a game-changing solution for Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the legal services and justice administration industries.
Gbenga Sesan, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paradigm Initiatives, stressed the importance of using technology to speed up access to justice, particularly as the country adjusts to the realities of the pandemic, citing several examples of interactions with law enforcement agencies that resulted in willful violations of the victims' human rights and dignity.
Sesan believes that innovation cannot thrive in an atmosphere where justice is stymied and rights are trampled on without redress, and that real demonstrations of justice in the protection of rights, particularly digital rights, are needed.
While there isn't yet a national consensus on the use of technology, NBA presidential candidate Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) believes that more thought should be given to how technology can be used to improve the delivery of justice, along with the financial and human resource investments that go along with it.
He noted that there are still considerable pockets of members of the Bar and Bench who are technologically handicapped.
Mr. Folorunsho Aliu, MD of Telnet Group, said the sector is on a path to improve how technology is used and harnessed for justice and economic progress, adding that the legal service and courts are walking the talk when it comes to leveraging technology to enhance and improve service delivery.
He believes that the conference's lessons and ideas will help Nigerians accept and apply legal technology more broadly.
Members of the panel displayed considerable insight in describing the solutions that law firms or legal departments had used to increase efficiency during the breakout session on managing law firms and legal departments.
Union Bank Legal Department's Sesan Sobowale and First Bank's Raymond Mgbeokwere offered unique experiences into the deployment of LawPavilion Case Management Solution for Legal Departments. Mr Seun Abimbola, former Attorney General of Oyo State, shared insights from his experience running a government department and urged that legal technologies solutions were the way forward to meet the competing demands on the legal department or law office, particularly in this pandemic, while Mr. Seun Abimbola, former Attorney General of Oyo State, shared insights from his experience running a government department and urged that legal technologies solutions were the way forward to meet the competing demands on the legal department or law office, particularly in this
When asked whether the legal ecosystem is an evolution or a revolution, Mr. Lere Fashola, publisher of ESQ Magazine, stated the eco-system is both an evolution and a revolution, because COVID-19 has changed how people communicate and conduct business.
A session demonstrating e-filing and court management methods and solutions, as well as a session focused at expediting case management of the entire court system from end to end, was one of the most fascinating debates and panel sessions. The private sector was not forgotten, though.
During the panel discussion, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola responded to a question about the Nigerian judiciary's readiness to adapt technology as needed in a post-COVID-19 environment by stating that the Nigerian judiciary has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate a willingness to adopt technologies and adapt court processes in order to ensure that justice is delivered on time.