COVID-19: Virtual platform ‘ll aid prosecution, AGF tells stakeholders

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has hinted that the establishment of a world-class studio by the federal government was aimed at enhancing the prosecution and defence of criminal cases in Nigerian.

The Attorney General of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN gave the hint while hosting webinar/virtual interactive session with attorneys-general and heads of courts of the 36 states and the federal capital territory via virtual platform.

The Special Assistant on Media and public relations to the AGF, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, stated this in a statement made available to Blueprint newspapers in Abuja.

According to the statement, the Ministry had improved on its ICT infrastructure to enable it carry out its duties effectively in view of the current social distancing regime.

Malami noted that the ministry has completed the establishment of ICT Studios and the deployment of Galaxy Backbone dedicated lines that will facilitate the prosecution of criminal cases as well as the defence of civil cases using the virtual platform.

The statement partly reads; “As the biggest Law Chamber in Nigeria and if not in Africa, the Federal Ministry of Justice must continue to lead the process of innovation in the administration of justice.

“To complement this effort, the Nigerian Correctional Service is also being engaged on establishment of Studios in the Correctional Centres to make it possible for evidence of suspects in custody to be taken without their physical presence in court. This will ensure that the administration of justice is not disrupted.”

The AGF noted further that ICT is being introduced in the receipt and processing of correspondence between the ministry and the general public in order to further minimize the person-to-person contact between officials of the Ministry and members of the general public.

Speaking further, he reiterated the desire to work with stakeholders to articulate a holistic response to the challenges posed by the CoVID-19 pandemic to the administration of justice in the country.

The minister also emphasised that there was need for a paradigm shift in the administration of justice through the deployment of appropriate technologies to drive the administration of justice.

He said the purpose of the virtual meeting was to provide the platform for engagement and articulation of collective views on the issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to harmonize resolutions on the way forward.

According to the minister, the advent of COVID-19 and the efforts to manage its spread and reduce the human and economic devastation made it imperative to adopt systems that will reduce the physical presence or involvement of persons in the judicial process through the deployment of technology.

“I am of the view that this meeting offers an opportunity for further discussion on the issue and a common position taken.

“This is without prejudice to the ongoing deliberations in the National Assembly to amend section 36(2) & (3) of the Constitution. As stakeholders, we have a duty to ensure that the pandemic is not allowed to ground the administration of justice machinery to a halt.

“We must continue to forge the needed synergy and collaboration to administer justice in the face of the pandemic and in line with global best practice”. The statement added.

On measures to decongest Correctional Centres nation-wide, the Minister expressed appreciation that about six thousand, five hundred and ninety (6590) inmates has so far been released by the Presidential Committee on the decongestion of Correctional Centres and that of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy Committee.

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