The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is seeking the nation’s judiciary to be part of Information Communications Technology (ICT) trends, whose impact has now affected ways that justice is delivered across the world.
The leadership of the commission made the call at the 18th annual capacity-building workshop organised for Nigerian judges,which started in Lagos, on Tuesday.
The workshop, themed: “The digital world and the future of adjudppication,” had judges from the federal and state high courts, as well as appeal courts in attendance.
Speaking, the Chairman, NCC Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande, urged the legal practitioners 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 said there was the need to constantly equip judicial officers with the requisite skills for effective adjudication, especially in the digitised world, where the rate of technology development is fast ahead of laws.
Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the NCC, Prof. Garba Danbatta, in his address, 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 noted that 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 some issues of legal connotation which will be deliberated upon by various experts during this workshop. One of 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.
Danbatta explained that the commission conceived the idea of the forum as part of its strategic partnership and collaboration to further build the capacity of the distinguished judges with practical insights on the 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.
In his address, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, commended the commission for the annual forum and assured the telecoms regulator of the commitment of the judiciary to using technology for justice dispensation as well as support a more robust legal ecosystem for sustaining socio-economic growth of Nigeria through telecoms sector.
Represented by Supreme Court judge, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the CJN said through the use of ICT, the judiciary has improved, not just in judicial administration and services, but also in infrastructural development.
He stressed that regardless of the benefits of digitalisation, there are bound to be liabilities and risks involved with its introduction and usage.
The CJN highlighted such risks to include cyber crime, data piracy, hacking among others.
“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.
The CJN added that 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 reliable, effective and efficient administration of justice through the use of ICT,” he said.