Virtual Court Sittings Constitutional, Supreme Court Rules

While the court recognised that the National Assembly was presently considering a bill to make court proceedings on digital platforms constitutional, it however ruled in favour of virtual sittings describing the suit as immature and speculative.

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad / Photo credit: vanguardngr.com
Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad / Photo credit: vanguardngr.com

The Supreme Court in a ruling on Tuesday said court proceedings held virtually were constitutional after striking out a suit filed by the Attorney General of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo.

Onigbanjo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria had challenged the powers of the National Assembly to pass laws determining the rules for court proceedings.

The attorney general had also asked the Supreme Court to decide whether having regard to Section 36(1), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) use of technology by remote hearings of any kind, whether by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Skype or any other audiovisual or video-conference platform by the Lagos state high court or any other courts in Nigeria in aid of hearing and determination of cases are constitutional.

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While the court recognised that the National Assembly was presently considering a bill to make court proceedings on digital platforms constitutional, it however ruled in favour of virtual sittings describing the suit as immature and speculative.

The seven panel of the court that made the ruling said the bill in the National Assembly was yet to go through the second and third reading and sent to all assemblies of the 36 states, the court cannot decide on it.

The Supreme Court said, “Can we at this stage speculate the outcome of the national assembly? Even if we can, the amendment must have occurred before the suit matures,” the court held.

“Even the devil knows not the intent of a man. Your suit is speculative and it is a fundamental law that we don’t act on speculations. Wait for them to pass the law and see if it will affect your own rules of court.”

Written by The Interview Editors

The Interview is a niche publication, targeting leaders and aspiring leaders in business, politics, entertainment, sports, arts, the professions and others within society’s upper middle class and high-end segment in Nigeria.

Festus Keyamo is the Nigerian minister of state for labour.

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