The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged the nation’s judiciary to join the information communications technology (ICT) trends, whose impact has changed the delivery of justice across the world.
The leadership of the commission made the call during 18th annual capacity workshop organised for Nigerian judges from the Federal and state high courts, and appeal courts, themed: “The digital world and the future of adjudication,” in Lagos.
Speaking at the workshop, the chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande urged the legal luminaries to make greater contributions towards information and communication technology (ICT) development in Nigeria.
While stating the centrality of a functional adjudicatory system as a bedrock for any civilised society, Akande emphasised the need to constantly equip judicial officers with the right skills for effectual adjudication, especially in the digitised world, where the rate of technology development is fast ahead of laws.
Earlier in his address, the NCC executive vice-chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the Internet comes with several challenges, hence the need for judges to be exposed to the benefits as well as the challenges associated with new technologies.
The EVC said through the workshop, judges will be exposed to disruptive technologies, the rights of data subjects and jurisdictional issues in the digital age, which have continued to make the ICT industry a dynamic one.
“The increased reliance on telecommunications, as well as the growth experienced in the sector, has introduced issues of legal connotation which will be deliberated upon by various experts during this workshop. One such issues is the ownership of online content and materials.
“So, it is envisaged that with the increase in the amount of online content, as well as the economic value attached to it, there will be a rise in conflicts as to ownership of online content and materials.
“It is necessary that your lordships are well prepared for the imminent increase in litigation in this area. Furthermore, with an increase in the number of transactions and businesses taking place in the online space, it is also expedient for your lordships to be exposed to the peculiarities of adjudicating conflicts in this era of digital presence and online identity,” he said.
He stated that the commission conceived the idea of the forum, as part of its strategic partnership and collaboration, as a forum to further build the capacity of the distinguished judges with practical insights on these emerging issues in the field of telecommunications.
“Hopefully, this workshop will illuminate these challenges and proffer ways to meet the dynamics of the changing times. I, therefore, enjoin you to freely make contributions and raise issues that would assist the commission in coming up with adequate regulatory measures that would enhance development in the communications sector of the economy. We assure you that every view expressed would be respected and considered in this regard,” he said.
On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola commended the commission for the annual forum while assuring the telecom regulator of the commitment of the judiciary to using technology for justice dispensation, as well as support a more robust legal ecosystem for sustainable socio-economic growth of Nigeria through telecoms sector.
Represented by a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Ariwoola said, through the use of ICT, the judiciary has improved in judicial administration and services, as well as in infrastructural development.
Ariwoola said regardless of the benefits of digitalisation there are bound to be liabilities and risks – cybercrime, data piracy, hacking etc – involved with its introduction and usage.
“Our judicial system has been challenged with delays in dispensing justice. However, with the introduction of ICT into the judicial space, many of the difficulties associated with the conventional methods are gradually being dispensed with,” he said.
In a statement by the NCC’s director of public affairs, Reuben Muoka, Ariwoola said the path to effective and efficient justice delivery in Nigeria lies in the collective ability to continuously improve the nation’s justice sector with the use of ICT tools. “The Nigerian judiciary is committed to achieving lasting structural and ethical reforms that would reposition it to adequately meet the aspirations of court users and the public for the reliable, effective and efficient administration of justice through the use of ICT,” he said.