Hon. Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of the National Industrial Court has decried the slow rate at which Judiciary adopt technology in Nigeria.
He made the remark whilst speaking on a panel discussion topic: ” LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY IN JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION, ISSUES & CHALLENGES,” at the ongoing 2019 Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference, Victoria Island Lagos.
"We received technology late when others have left what we are introducing for something more advanced." Justice Ogbuanya.
Speaking on why ICT should be adopted adequately, he recommended that Judges should update their ICT skills and knowledge for efficient Justice delivery system.
Another panelist, Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye gave his view on the legislative framework for admissibility of electronic evidence in Nigeria.
His Lordship stressed that Judiciary cannot escape from the reality of the digital age as cases coming into the courts now take new forms and actions with a digital signature like computer forgery, digital theft, cybercrime, etc.
”As lawyers, we must understand these realities and know how to apply them in our practice.
”The judiciary initially resisted technology, as they harbored the most technophobic people as judges were trained to be conservatives, but the narrative is changing mainly because there was a legislative intervention through the enactment of Section 84 of Evidence Act 2011.
”Whether or not evidence generated from electronic devices was admissible within the framework of the old Evidence Act was highly contentious as there were many cases in the past where electronic evidence was rejected,” he said.
Speaking further, he said that there was also a restrictive definition of the document before, but today it is now used broadly. He added that there are inadequacies in Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
”Our legislatures need to be proactive in enacting legislation and be alive to its responsibilities of enacting laws that reflect and match the advancement in technology”.
Dr. Akpabio, on the other hand, said that everyone is a stakeholder in the administration of justice, cited the amendment made by the American Bar Association in 2012 to their rules, that a lawyer must be competent in delivering their service which includes ICT competency urged the Nigerian Legal System to adopt same.
In the same vein, a Senior Engineer at Conoil, Mr. Mike Mbon, spoke briefly on the advantages of using Technology in Justice Administration.
He stated that as technology is growing, so crime is also growing. He said that we need technology to apprehend these criminals and for justice administration.
He also said technology will make lawyers smart and would also help to apprehend criminals and for better justice administration.
During the question and answer session, a question was asked as to why some judges reject digital photo as evidence because it is not accompanied by a memory card.
Responding, Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye said that it is not required that a digital photo be rejected by a judge because there is no memory card accompanying it.
He added that it was the old knowledge the judges are using, as in the case of coming with a photo accompanied by its negative, but this has changed and so the lawyer needs to put up a strong defense in this regard.
The panel session was chaired by Dr. Tammy Danagogo with Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, Dr. Amanim Akpbio, Hon. Justice Nelson Ogbuanya, and Mr. Mike Mbon as the panelists.