Artificial Intelligence
How Can Technology Help Improve The Judicial System of Nigeria

How Can Technology Help Improve The Judicial System of Nigeria

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Author: Barakah Olusanya |

The judicial system of Nigeria has a lot of challenges and I am of the firm view that technology can solve some of them. With the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the use of technology has become the new normal and the Nigerian judiciary has begun to embrace technology in some of its activities. Some of the challenges the Nigerian judiciary is facing includes slow dispensation of justice, lack of effective communication between the Courts, counsel and litigants, lack of an effective case management system and several others that would be discussed in this essay.

In Nigerian courts, virtual hearings are a relatively recent element. Despite the fact that virtual hearings have been implemented in Nigeria, there is still discrimination against them and some judges despise them since they are unfamiliar with technology equipment and believe that virtual hearings are stressful and time wasting.  The fact that some judges refuse to hold hearings virtually puts the people living far away from the courts at a disadvantage. There’s also the issue of judges arriving late to court or not showing up at all, which results in cases being adjourned. With virtual hearings, all these can be avoided and there would be no case of wastage of time and resources. 

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) can also be used to strengthen the existing Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) with the input of technology and its devices. Some countries have started incorporating ODR into their judicial system and it has so far, been reliable. Compared to traditional ADR, ODR saves time and money by reducing transportation costs and allowing justice to be served faster.  It also benefits the parties involved and improves access to justice; for example, if technology makes Dispute Resolution less expensive, more people will be able to hire lawyers to bring their cases forward.

Another issue that can be remedied with technology is writing of the court’s record of proceedings by judges. Judges are expected to record everything that happens in court. Judges are also human, and they are unable to precisely record everything that occurs in court. The judges do their best to write it as it is, but they keep telling the counsels or witnesses to repeat themselves, which slows down the court process. This is one of the reasons why court processes take so long, and it also slows down the dispensation of justice. Instead of writing the court proceedings themselves, judges can use dictation mode on their laptops or phones. Microsoft Word has a feature called Dictation Mode, which types out whatever you say to the device. The dictation mode is highly trustworthy because it includes a Nigerian accent, allowing it to understand what a Nigerian is saying.

An effective e-filing system will also significantly improve the judicial system of Nigeria. Following the protest against police brutality in Nigeria (“ENDSARS” Protest), hoodlums ransacked and burned the Lagos division of the High Court of Lagos, causing the loss of case files, exhibits, and other documents. This incident prompted the Lagos judicial system to step up their game to implement electronic filing and digitisation of files. If the e-filing technology had been in place before the ENDSARS protest, the costs and time wasted to replace the destroyed case file and records would have been saved since the documents would have been saved electronically. In effect, the importance of technology to the improvement of Nigeria’s judicial system cannot be overemphasised. 

The slow dispensation of justice is one of the major problems of Nigeria’s judicial system. The amount of time and resources court proceedings consume are some of the elements that contribute to the problem. Some cases can take up to six (6) years to resolve, which is concerning because evidence may become lost over time. With technology, court cases can be concluded on time. Lack of effective communication and the problem of case management is also an issue technology can solve in Nigeria. For example, counsels may have been waiting in court for the judge to sit, only to be informed two (2) hours later that the judge would not be appearing in court that day. With the use of emails, text messages or phone calls, they could have been notified beforehand that the court would not be sitting on that day.The Nigerian Judicial system can be enhanced with the incorporation of technology in its affairs. Technology can help to improve the Nigerian judicial system by making it more effective and efficient; it can also help reduce the cost of court proceedings and help people get justice faster; it can help reduce technology illiteracy, make research easier and faster, and reduce the bias many people have against technology. The introduction and usage of technology in the Nigerian Judiciary System would be a major step towards the growth that we need in Nigeria.

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