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Lawyers, Judges Make Case For ICT In  Justice Administration

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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

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Ekiti Poll: Improve On BVAS Innovation, Group Urges INEC

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A socio-cultural group, the Ladies of Substance, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the innovation of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to ensure it performs optimally during the 2023 elections.
The group’s Team Lead, Mrs Mojisola Akinbohun, told The Tide’s source in Ado-Ekiti recently that it would make future elections in Nigeria to be credible.
Akinbohun said the use of BVAS for Ekiti election showed a significant improvement over the previous elections.
“This is a great opportunity for INEC to showcase its preparedness for the 2023 general elections with the test of functionality and effectiveness of the BVAS. I commend INEC for its quick response to resolving all challenges observed during the election in Ekiti,” she said.
Akinbohun disclosed that the group had deployed its members to monitor the election across some loycal Government Areas for independent monitoring.
She said that there were tremendous improvements in the timely arrival of election materials to the polling units as well as responses to any issue raised by the electorate.
The team lead said the group, however, observed cases of vote buying during the election, adding that it remains a monster in the electoral system in the country, which must be checked.
Akinbohun also commended the electorate that shunned and resisted attempts and temptations to sell their votes to political agents during the election in the state, and lauded the security for their presence, which ensured utmost calm and peace within and around the polling units and some local governments visited by the group.
The Team Lead said the group observed that there was an impressive turnout across the council areas the group monitored.
She commended the people of Ekiti for their maturity, especially for putting behind the string of violence and not entertaining fears against early predictions that the election might be marred by violence.

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Firm  Wants Blockchain For Dispute Resolution

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A Fintech Software Engineer ing  Firm, Appzone, has called on banks to adopt blockchain technology  for increased visibility and transparency to resolve dispute claims between customers  and financial  institutions.
Co-founder of Appzone, Mr Uche Elendu, said in a statement that it was needed, with the increased rate of fraud and dispute claims between customers and financial institutions across Nigeria.
Elendu noted  that the adoption of blockchain technology was not only to decentralise the process of moving money from one bank to the other .
According to him,  it would help to  increase the level of visibility and transparency of the procedure.
“As more Nigerians get financially included, customers have continued to move away from cash and checks toward electronic payments,” he said.
This trend, he said, is a positive development for banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to him, card and online transactions grow as well as  the number of disputable transactions and the incidence of fraud, putting pressure on dispute processes.
“Financial institutions across the continent have continued to evolve, leveraging technology.They have metamorphosed from the days of a heavy analogue process to a more digitised era.
“With the continuous increase in the volume of banking transactions, it remains pertinent to continuously adopt newer and more sophisticated technology infrastructure to remain dependable, especially with payment settlements.
“For us at Appzone, we are firm believers in blockchain technology,” he said.
He continued that its decentralised nature not only made it faster, cheaper, and transparent, but also makes it sophisticated enough to enable real-time settlement.
Elendu said having rolled out Zone – Africa’s first blockchain platform for payment processing in 2021, partner banks that had onboarded have seen a drastic change in their payment settlement process.
He said that Zone’s innovative architecture would reduce complaints from customers and provide banks with an opportunity to deliver delightful experiences on payment channels while also driving down costs.
He further stated that it developed in line with Appzone’s recent evolution into a payment infrastructure company.
Noting that Zone is Africa’s first decentralised payment network.he said t allows inter-bank transactions to be processed directly between banks on the vlockchain without the involvement of any intermediary.
According to him, with Zone, players in the industry should expect a reliable and scalable payment network that enables frictionless and instant payments, within and between every African country.
The Tide’s source reports that Appzone Layer-1 Blockchain network digitises Fiat payments, and enables the transition to digital currencies while connecting previously excluded financial institutions into an all-inclusive payment ecosystem.

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‘FinTechs  Important In Ecosystem Growth In Africa’

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A financial expert, Dr Segun Aina, says policy makers and financial regulators need to evolve with the growth in financial technology companies  (FinTechs) space to establish a sustainable ecosystem and financial inclusion in African countries.
Aina said this at a two-day virtual forum of the 2022 Maiden CABS FinTech, organised by the Community of African Banking Supervisors (CABS) in partnership with Africa Fintech Network (AFN).
The forum had the theme: “Opportunities and Challenges of FinTech Development in Africa.”
Aina, former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the future was bright for the continent, especially for the growth of FinTechs.
The banker said the AFN was committed to making contributions that would positively impact the growth of the ecosystem.
He noted that there was need to work directly with the Association of African Central Banks, particularly the committee of African banking supervisors to achieve such impact.
Aina said the financial subsector had recorded an unprecedented growth with huge investment, mostly by foreign investors.
He said FinTechs were trending with presence in different countries and also contributing to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“As people continue to embrace digital banking, FinTech startup became bigger in terms of valuation (market value) amid challenges of corporate governance”, he said.
According to him, this is evolving despite the opportunities that abound across the entire FinTech ecosystem in Africa.
Aina, however, noted that regulators were attempting to catch up to FinTech as they had realised the need to play in the digital innovation space.
He also said FinTechs and startups in the same space had gained prominence in the last 10 years, which was driven by advancement, enabled by internet and mobile phones.
This development, he said, had made banks to set up FinTech subsidiaries, while their former senior regulators serve on the boards of fintech companies.
The former CIBN boss said mobile money indicator showed that 500 million people subscribed to mobile phones in Africa and 245 million use mobile internet.
Aina also said the continent continued to record the highest year-on-year growth in internet penetration and with the support of funding from outside Africa.

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