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Nigerian courts must advance beyond writing proceedings in longhand – Lawyers




Lagos, March 12, 2019 Irked by the delay in justice administration, some legal practitioners in Lagos, on Tuesday, called for the provision of an electronic-based court system across the country to facilitate speedy delivery of justice.

The lawyers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria , stressed the need to fast track justice administration and promote its easy dispensation.

They called for the introduction of a computerised court system, where judges would no longer be saddled with the “biro task’’ otherwise known as “longhand”.

According to a Legal Analyst, Mr Ogedi Ogu, the use of longhand by judges slows down the pace of proceedings as they are made to invest greater part of their time in trying to record what transpired before them.

He gave a contrast with an electronic system and said: “Where you have a machine which performs the task of recording, the judge then concentrates on listening and reflecting on the proceedings as well as observing the demeanour of witnesses before the court’’.

Ogu told NNN that the impact of recording proceedings in longhand had similar impact with an analogue system in a digital world.

He recommended the adoption of a computerised court system, as the practice of long hand, had adversely affected the pace of proceedings with a consequent delay in justice delivery.

In the same vein, a Rights Activist, Chief Malcolm Onirhobo, said that taking down proceedings in longhand by the “bench’’ was one of the conventional methods of courts in Nigeria, which had become obsolete and time-consuming.

“The way out of this is by employing the use of electronic system which involves modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Nigerian legal system.

“We need to keep pace with the developed countries of the globe that adopt the use of electronic equipment to record court proceedings.

“The benefits of the E-justice system are enormous. In the sense that it is transparent, court documents are secured easily and are faster to access.

“It is cost and space saving and above all, leads to a quick dispensation of justice,’’ Onirhobo said.

Onirhobo perceived that challenges would stem from an epileptic power supply, on-line hacking, corruption and inadequate funding.

He, however, espoused its (E-justice system) advantages which he described as crucial.

Mr Emenike Nnoromlele said that many courts were burdened with so many cases at a time, leading to the daily cause lists having as much as 20 or more cases.

“Imagine having to allocate sufficient time to listen to submissions of counsels and litigants on a daily basis, while the judge has to put down every word in writing.

“Counsels are even often encouraged to slow down the pace at which they address the court, so as to enable the judges record them clearly.

“With a computerised system, a lawyer is free to address the court at his full pace, with the judge paying full attention to his submissions,’’ he said.

According to him, it is time for our courts to employ stenographers or in the alternative voice recorders to serve this crucial purpose.

Mr Samuel Esoga said that a complete adoption and integration of technology in all courts in Nigeria will better serve to speed up proceedings and allow for easier and smart record-keeping.

“In both the private and public sectors, the use of information technology has been embraced to a good effect and the judiciary should not be allowed to lag behind.

Esoga said that a resort to a technologically-improved system for the courts, would  afford presiding judges a better atmosphere to conduct and conclude proceedings in quality time.