The Nigerian Comunications Commision ( NCC) says there is need for the Judiciary sector to be exposed to the peculiarities of adjudicating conflicts in the era of digital presence and online identity.
The Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said this at an Annual Workshop for Judges on Legal Issues in Telecommunications held in Lagos.
The theme of the Workshop was: “The Digital World and the Future of Adjudication”.
Danbatta, in his welcome address, said the aim of the workshop was to further build the capacity of the Judges with practical insights on the emerging issues in the field of telecommunications.
“The Commission has high hopes that the current workshop will further contribute to the development of telecommunications law in Nigeria.
“It is worth noting that new technologies and unyielding reliance on the internet will pose unimaginable and complex challenges.
“Hopefully, this workshop will illuminate these challenges and proffer ways to meet the dynamics of the changing times,” Danbatta said.
The EVC/CEO recalled that the commission had been driving the Nigeria Government’s quest for a digital economy that supports national development and economic diversification.
He said the drive had led to the Broadband penetration in Nigeria increasing by 91.70 per cent in the last four years.
“The country’s broadband penetration increased from 21.21 per cent in April 2017 to 40.66 per cent in April 2021.
“The commission’s data show that in April 2021, 77,605,500 million Nigerians were connected to the internet, up from 40,481,570 million in April 2017.
“The current broadband penetration as at June 2022 stands at 44.30 per cent with more than 84 million internet subscriptions in the country,”he said.
Danbatta said the commission envisaged that with the increase in the amount of online content as well as the economic value attached to it, there would 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 called on the judiciary to 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.
The Chairman, Board of Governors on the National Judicial Institute ,Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, said the path to effective and efficient justice delivery in Nigeria was in the ability to continuously improve the Justice sector with the use of ICT tools.
The Chairman was represented by Justice Kudirat Kekere-ekun.
In his address, he said the judicial system had 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 were gradually being dispensed with.
Ariwoola, who is also the Chief Justice of Nigeria ( CJN) said the workshop among other things, would further deepen the experience of the judicial officers, in terms of equipping them with requisite skills required for adjudication in a digitalised world of today.
This would thereby keep them abreast of global best practices.
“In our effort to ensure that the Nigerian Judiciary becomes ICT compliant, we have inaugurated the Judicial Information Technology Policy Committee (JITPO-COM) in January 2012 to chart a course for the introduction of Court Technology into the Nigerian Courts.
“The vision is to enhance the efficient and speedy disposal of cases.
“A committee was set up with the mandate to assist the Judiciary meet the fast-evolving needs of its Judicial Officers, court employees, key stakeholders and the general public, by using Information Technology to improve the general performance of the Nigerian Judiciary, ” he said.
The chairman said the committee was saddled with responsibilities which included formulation of a policy for the safe, secure, and seamless adoption of technology in the Nigerian Judiciary.
He said the Nigerian Judiciary had developed and deployed the Nigerian Case Management System (NCMS) software.
“The goal of the NCMS is to provide for a seamlessly interfacing electronic platform for case management by all the courts in Nigeria.
“Some State High Courts are completely automated since October 2020, using the NCMS to receive and assign cases,” he added.
He, however, said the synergy between the Commission and Judiciary was vital, as this would deter criminal acts committed by citizens which are inimical to the growth of the nation.
The CJN commended the efforts of NCC on the sustenance of its collaboration as it had contributed in expanding the knowledge base of the judicial officers.