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Why Nigerian judiciary must embrace technology – Osinbajo

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By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The Nigerian judiciary must embrace technology and innovation for the evolution of the profession and national development, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said.Osinbajo said this in a pre-recorded speech on Monday as guest speaker at the 2021 Annual Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lagos Branch, themed ‘Disruption, Innovation and The Bar.’
He said the judiciary must ensure that the country’s justice delivery mechanism is run on a system of enforceable, discernible laws and efficient institutions.
He said innovation in the country’s legal profession requires urgency in both thought and action, especially in a world which currently thrives on knowledge economy, and where some jobs, including legal jobs, are being threatened by digitization and Artificial Intelligence (AI).Citing the example of how continuous improvement in the quality of smartphone cameras disrupted global sales of digital camera, the Vice President said artificial intelligence “is commonly used to perform tasks such as legal research and due diligence, document and contract review, and the prediction of legal outcomes – these are tasks that would have been performed by lawyers.”“With the continuing progress in technology, it is only a matter of time before the time capsule catches up with us in Nigeria,” he stated while calling for continuous improvement in the institutional capacity of judges, court registries, court staff, and court infrastructure.“As digitalisation has already disrupted other industries, it is possible to predict that AI will go further and disrupt the business model of the legal industry.”For example, the AI legal service called ROSS is an AI system that can research and offer legal opinions about questions that may be posed by lawyers. And ROSS is then able to provide an answer; a properly considered legal opinion, taking into account the case laws and statutory authority in order to be able to come to that conclusion… So, providing predictive legal opinion is no longer the exclusive domain of lawyers, and as the years go by, it will become even more so.“We are part of the global marketplace for investment and legal services. So, the extent to which we can attract business to our country depends in part upon investor perception of the quality of our justice delivery system. If we are seen as inefficient and ineffective, we would lose out to more efficient systems,” he said.Speaking on the delay in justice delivery process, Osinbajo said the country’s judiciary ought to find ways to tackle jurisdictional challenges, particularly delays in court judgments, among others.“I argued an appeal at the Court of Appeal in 2013, only to learn yesterday as I discussed with former colleagues in the law firm where I worked, that the appeal at the Supreme Court is not even listed to be heard in 2021. As someone said; our problem is not access to justice, it is exiting the justice system with some credible result.”Should we not be evolving a cost award system that recognizes the court as a finite public resource, and as such delays and other dilatory tactics are visited with deterrent costs?“For example, our jurisprudence on jurisdiction – does it promote legal certainty or help to cloud the issues even further? Have jurisdictional challenges become a potent weapon that strike blindly in all directions? What is the quality of judicial thinking, is it a mere recourse to formulas, catchphrases, and clichés instead of a rigorous analysis of legislative intent and public interest adding some common sense? Are procedural and adjectival rules a bane or tool for justice and speed?“How does a system explain to society that the current rule established by our apex court is that the signature of a law firm instead of that of an individual legal practitioner on a court process could negate or extinguish the substance of the rights of individuals and commercial parties to justice in a decade’s old case or even in a case that is much older? Or how does justice delayed at the convenience of legal practitioners or the benefit of litigants become justice attained?“Change is happening quickly all around us in every sphere of life. A sentimental clutching on to traditions will not serve us well. We have seen already that there is nothing sacrosanct about proceedings taking place in physical courtrooms. Virtual hearings are efficient and speedy,” he said.The Vice President commended Lagos and other states that have embraced innovation and issued practice directions that permitted virtual proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown “in line with the commitment the Chief Justice of Nigeria made recently to a full-scale digital revolution in the judiciary that would guarantee electronic filing of court processes, virtual hearings and delivery of judgments.”
The Vice President said there was the need for the judiciary to engage in new markets as presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Questions also need be asked about the readiness of our profession to engage in new markets as presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area. Already Nigerian banks and financial services are crossing borders in Africa, acquiring banks in several African countries.
“So, the AfCTA will open new trans-border commercial opportunities, and our profession should pay attention to the rules of engagement for legal services and how they may propel our business,” he said.


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FEC approves N836 million augmentation for 38 coronavirus oxygen plants

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The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday
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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved N836 million as augmentation for the establishment of oxygen production plants for COVID-19 pandemic intervention across the country.

Newsmen report that the council had in June approved N5.615 billion to four major contractors for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of the 38 oxygen plants in various parts of the country.

Newsmen report that the approval in June followed the Presidential Steering Committee’s (PSC) announcement to increase oxygen reserve capacity in the event of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the council meeting, on behalf of the Minister of Health, said the approval of the upward review followed a memo presented by the minister of health to the council.

The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja.

The minister said: “The Minister of Health also presented a memo seeking for an upward review for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of the 38 oxygen plants all over the country.

“You will remember in June, the Federal Executive Council, actually approved the sum of N5.615 billion to four major contractors for the emergency supply, installation and maintenance of 38 oxygen plants in various parts of the country.

“Regrettably, the four companies also came back recently with the same complaints ranging from fluctuation in the foreign exchange and the scarcity of the material all over the world as a result of COVID-19.

“So, he presented a memo for augmentation in the sum of N836 million and this was also approved today.

Mohammed disclosed that the council also approved revised estimate costs and extension of the contract of the consultants supervising the Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project from an initial sum of N98 million to N302.8 million.

“The Bagwai Water Dam Irrigation project in Bagwai Local Government Area of Kano State actually was commenced, the initial contract was actually awarded in the year 2005.

“And due to several logistics problems, the project is still on and just recently the FEC actually approved an augmentation of the entire contract and that means also that the mandate of the consultant supervising the construction would also have to be reviewed.

“So, now the total cost for the consultancy is N302. 9 million.’’

Source: (NAN)


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Osun sensitises herdsmen on anti-open grazing law

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Osun Gov. Gboyega Oyetola
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Osun State government on Wednesday in Osogbo began the sensitisation of herdsmen on the recently-passed anti-open grazing law.

Newsmen report that the sensitisation, which had heads of herders groups in the state in attendance, was organised by the State’s Civic Centre.

Newsmen also report that the House of Assembly passed the Bill entitled: “Bill to Regulate Animal Grazing and Establishment of Cattle Ranches and other Related Matters’’ on Aug. 12.

Gov. Gboyega Oyetola, thereafter, signed the bill into law on Sept. 15.

Speaking at the sensitisation, Special Adviser to Gov. Oyetola on Civic Engagement, Mr Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, said the programme was put in place to sensitise herdsmen on the content of the law.

Oyintiloye said the programme was to let the herdsmen understand that the law was not meant to witch-hunt or segregate them in the state.

“There is need for us to sensitise and enlighten them on the content of the law so that they will not run afoul of it and also to tell them that the law is not to witch-hunt them in form of segregation.

“The programme is also to educate them to operate within the ambit of the law and not to claim ignorance of it,’’ he said.

Oyintiloye, who appreciated the herdsmen on the peaceful coexistence with their host communities, appealed to them to try as much as possible to operate within the law.

He said Gov. Oyetola would continue to provide enabling environment for them to operate and transact their businesses.

In her marks, Mrs Abiodun Ige, Special Adviser to the governor on Security, said farmers and herdsmen should continue to live peacefully in the state.

Ige said that the law would take its course on anyone that ran afoul of it.

“What concerns security in this matter is that anybody that runs afoul of the law, the law will take its course.

“If farmers and herdsmen have been working together peacefully without a problem, we will still advise they work together without any problem.

“But we do not want any breakdown of law and order. If there is anything like that, the law will take its course.

“We have advised that if there is any issue, they should report promptly to security agencies,’’ she said.

The Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Dayo Adewole, said that the law was not to fight herdsmen but to sustain the peaceful coexistence between them and farmers.

In his remarks, Mr Mudashiru Toogun, Chairman, Committee on Peaceful Coexistence between herders and farmers, also urged herdsmen to continue to coexist with the host communities peacefully.

Toogun said that with the law in place, anyone caught practising open grazing would face the law.

In his remarks, the Seriki Fulani in the state, Alhaji Ibrahim Babatunde, said herders believed that the law would be of benefit to them.

Babatunde said that herders would educate one another on the law, adding that they would also continue to live peacefully with their host communities.

He appreciated the governor for providing a peaceful environment for herdsmen to operate in the state.

Source: (NAN)


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AGF: Nigerian government may file fresh charges against Sunday Igboho

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AGF Abubakar Malami
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The Federal Government may file a fresh action against Yoruba secessionist agitator, Sunday Adeyemo (also know as Sunday Igboho), following the judgment of Oyo State High Court which awarded N20 billion in damages in his favour.

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that the federal government had the right to appeal the Judgement or file a fresh charge.

The judge, Ladiran Akintola, had awarded the money as “an exemplary and aggravated damages” against the AGF and the State Security Service (SSS), over the invasion of Adeyemo’s home in Ibadan on July 1.

However, Mr Malami said the position of the federal government on the judgment was about “law and jurisdiction”.

“As far as this matter is concerned, which court is it that has the jurisdiction to determine it? And as you rightly know, obedient to court orders and court judgments,” he said.

“But then you have to understand within the context of such obedience that there are associated rights and interests that are vested in the Federal Government.

“Inclusive of rights of appealing against a judgment, inclusive of the right to file an application for setting aside the purported judgment and order.

“And indeed, inclusive of the possibility of filling a fresh action if indeed the jurisdiction of the court that was alleged to have indeed handed that judgment is an issue.

“So, we are doing the needful in terms of looking at the law as it exists and then working within the context of the law in ensuring that justice is done as far as the contending issues between the parties are concerned,’’ the minister explained.

Mr Igboho’s counsel, Yomi Alliyu, SAN, had filed a N500 billion fundamental human rights enforcement suit against the AGF, SSS and the Director of the SSS in Oyo State over the invasion of his home in Ibadan on July 1.

Mr Alliyu claimed that his client’s house and cars were damaged, while two occupants of the house were killed by SSS operatives during the incident.

However, counsel to AGF, Abdullah Abubakar, had argued that there was no evidence before the court that the blood seen in the video clip tendered by Mr Alliyu belonged to a human being.

Mr Abubakar also said there was nothing in the video clip that showed that the house that was invaded belonged to Igboho or linked the AGF with the invasion.

Mr Adeyemo is still being held in the Republic of Benin where he was arrested some weeks ago while trying to flee to Germany.

Source: (NAN)


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