Some Nigerian lawyers and judges have said that the adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become imperative in contemporary Nigerian legal practice.
This was the top of issues discussed at the recent 2022 Bar Week of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Otuocha Branch, held in Nkwelle Ezunaka, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The theme of the week was “The Impact of Technology on 21st Century Law Practice and Justice Delivery”.
Prof. Oguguo Ikpeze of the Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who delivered the Keynote Address said the world was advancing and legal practice could not afford to lag behind.
Ikpeze, a life bencher, said although the legal profession was viewed as mundane, known for being traditional and conservative, which must be preserved to maintain professionalism, prestige and ethics, said it must be made adaptable to change.
She said the topic of discussion was apt, noting that those who do not want to upgrade to the application of information technology in their legal practice would lose their relevance in this technology-driven world.
“The impact of technology in the 21st century law practice and justice delivery can never be over-emphasised. Technology has come to stay and it has permeated all the spheres of life.
“Technology has made life easy, worth living and a global village. It has also made legal practice easy and made justice delivery speedy and more transparent,” she said.
On his part, a Professor of Law and Applied Jurisprudence, Rev. Fr Emeka Oraegbunam, said the world was evolving and everything was being done online, including banking which involves money.
Oraegbunam said ICT had become imperative in legal practice and justice delivery because it would reduce delay, improve efficiency, protect the health of judicial officers, increase access to justice and boost confidence of all parties.
He recommended that minimum infrastructure, training and teaching for effective adoption of ICT-based practice, while advising that the older generation of the bar and bench should make conscious efforts to adapt and be part of the revolution.
Dr Mike Anyadiegwu, a magistrate, said it was important that courts should be upgraded and made amenable to function technologically, adding that the facilities were not available in all courts.
Anyadiegwu said virtual hearing would solve the problem of non-appearance of criminal suspects in court because of insecurity and COVID-19 and should be encouraged and adopted.
“From my experience, it is better we embrace technology because the legal profession being a conservative profession is gradually moving towards technology and we cannot be left behind.
“In order to fast track criminal trial and justice delivery, there is a need for us to embrace technology, that is what is obtained in Europe and America and that is the standard practice available today.
“The system should encourage ICT database for court proceedings, we can’t continue to do everything manually,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of Otuocha Branch of the NBA, Mr Anthony Okafor, said the programme was a unique opportunity to discuss, evaluate and proffer solutions to the myriad of issues besetting the profession and efficient justice delivery.
He congratulated Governor Chukwuma Soludo for his strides in managing the affairs of the State so far and called on him to speed up the renovation work going on at the State High Court premises, Otuocha, for ease of the dispensation of Justice.
A Port Harcourt based lawyer and entertainer, Emperor Nnaoma Esq, noted that the Judiciary must make the necessary adjustments and join the ICT world.
Nnaoma, who corroborated the stand of his Anambra colleagues, said the judicial system will do great, upon the adoption of the ICT system.
He stated that the e-affidavit as operated in Rivers State has improved the system to a point, saying that the Judges will work in a relaxed atmosphere, if courts are fully digitized.
By: King Onunwor
Expert Wants Telcos To Prioritise Improved QoS
A Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy Advisor, Mr. Jide Awe, has urged telecommunication operators to give priority to improving Quality of Services (QoS).
Awe, who is also the Founder of Jidaw.com, made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos State, recently.
He said it was necessary to improve the current poor QoS using strategic investment in infrastructure to support current and future needs.
Awe said the future needs included increased number of users and increased traffic volumes of transactions among others.
“Customer journey has evolved significantly over the years, largely influenced by the advancements in telecommunications technology.
“Customers now expect seamless and uninterrupted connectivity across multiple touchpoints, be it through their smartphones, laptops, or Internet of Things (IoT) devices”, he said.
Awe also noted that the telecoms industry was plagued with right-of-way charges, multiple taxation, and insecurity of telecoms infrastructure.
According to him, addressing these challenges is essential for consumer protection to ensure QoS standards are met, and that consumers receive the promised level of service quality.
The policy advisor added that solving the issues would also help in promoting affordable broadband services.
On the role of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) as a regulator, he said the NCC needed to adopt an innovative, supportive, and visionary regulation approach that appreciated the importance of innovation and expansion.
“As new technologies continue to emerge, regulation cannot afford to be static. NCC should inculcate a spirit of innovation and growth in the sector.
“Innovative regulation helps to cultivate an environment that attracts investment to propel sectoral growth. Investor-friendly initiatives, simplification of regulations, strategic and disruptive thinking/approaches are crucial”, he said.
‘No Going Back On Plans Against Passport Racketeers’
A top immigration officer in Port- Harcourt, who spoke anonymosly, has stressed that the Immigration Service, Rivers State Commission will not soft pedal on plans to go against passport racketeering in the State.
Stating this in an interview with the press in Port Harcourt, Monday, he warned against any attempt to portay the agency in bad light, saying such will be resisted by the system.
He emphasised that passport racketeering is capable of portraying the command in bad light, especially the Passport Unit, at the international group where it belonged.
Noting that the passport processes do not require a third party, easy and pocket friendly, the officer expressed regrets that the saboteurs charge the unsuspecting members of the public seeking passport exhobitantly thereby making the process cumbersome.
He boasted on how the passport personnel “have all it takes to deliver tasks on schedule with zero complaint”.
According to him, those in the act of the alleged sabotage risk imprisonment, if caught, in that it is viewed as economic sabortage on the part of the Federal Government.
“Passport racketeering is against the law and abuse of process. Things must be done in order and decently. We are an agency established by law. So, anything we are doing must follow due process”, he said.
He has also called on members of the public to be wary of patronising road-side passport operators to avoid double payment.
“If due process will be followed, according to him, the issue of passport racketeering will belong to history”.
He also described as a plus, the introduction of e-gates in about four International Airports in the country, including Port Harcourt.
Stories compiled by King Onunwor
Minister Wants States To Align Technological Advancement With Local Prionties
Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji, has urged states to align their technological advancements with local priorities.
The Minister said this at the first edition of the interactive forum for state commissioners in charge of Science and Technology, held in Abuja recently.
Nnaji said states should also provide solutions for regional-specific challenges and promoting a more robust and resilient scientific ecosystem that fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“This alignment will ensure inclusivity, unlock the immense potential of our nation’s intellectual and technological resources, and propel our states to the forefront of technological advancements”, he said.
The Minister also urged the commissioners to actively engage local industries, research institutions and community stakeholders, so as to collaborate in amplifying the impact of Nigeria’s scientific endeavours.
He said this was important to ensure seamless transition from research to application of the scientific endeavours, to facilitate economic growth and ensure technological advancements that meet the needs of citizens.
“As Nigeria transits from a resource to a knowledge-based economy driven by innovation, it is worth emphasising that this task is daunting but certainly surmountable, and will require strong commitment, continuous learning and adaptive strategies.
“Let us, therefore, approach it with a sense of urgency, recognising that the decisions we make today will shape the future of our scientific landscape”, he said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs Esuabana Asanye, said the forum was meant to broaden their scope and ensure their buy-in and implementation of the National Science and Technology Roadmap 2017-2030.
Asanye stated that the roadmap represented the desire to implement the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation designed to hasten innovation, economic growth and inclusive scientific development to meet national aspiration.
“The task before us is a shared responsibility to harness the full potential of our sub national for the national scientific landscape for environmental sustainability and curbing climate devastation. Each state has its unique demographic resourcefulness and if properly managed, would exponentially foster the culture of innovation at the grassroot level for sustainable development”, she said.
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