The Supreme Court management said on Thursday that it was upgrading its Information and Communication Technology (ICT) system to enable it to begin virtual proceedings amid the lockdown of various parts of the country.
The apex court said this in a statement issued by its Director of Press and Information, Dr Festus Akande, in response to a feature story published by The PUNCH on Thursday.
“There is need to reiterate our initial position that in view of the current lockdown on most states of the federation and the FCT as a result of the ravaging global coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court has started upgrading its Information Technology facilities with a view to holding virtual proceedings within the shortest possible time,” Akande stated in the statement.
The PUNCH’s story titled, ‘COVID-19: How judiciary bungled opportunity to avert court shutdown’ highlighted the lack of preparedness of the Nigerian judiciary to operate maximally through the adoption of Information Technology during the period of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
Responding to the story, Akande said the Legal E-Mail platform of the Supreme Court meant for the electronic service of court processes on lawyers had not been abandoned as suggested in the report.
He stated, “A key component of the Legal E-mail process is for the appellant and respondent lawyers to be available on the Legal E-mail Platform so that they could both be served their hearing notices through the email with a proof-of-service. However, since the backlog of appeals currently being heard in Supreme Court are those of 2008, which predate the 2018 inauguration, many of the lawyers involved have not yet registered on the platform.
“This leaves the court with no option at the moment but to manually serve the respective chambers and also by sending text messages to their mobile phones in the interim.”
Dr Akande also said plans were ongoing “possibly to have the relevant laws in place, to ensure that any lawyer who has not registered for the Legal E-mail will not have his appeal listed for hearing at the Supreme Court.”
He noted that amid the ongoing lockdown the Supreme Court had been sitting and giving judgments in time-bound cases.
He also stated that in demonstration of the adoption of IT by the judiciary, the National Judicial Council held a virtual meeting on Wednesday and Thursday.