Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), said on Monday that Nigerian judges would lose their annual two-month vacation when normalcy returns to the country after the containment of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Malami, in a statement, also said the judiciary was expected to consider how best to start opening as soon as possible to start tackling of backlog of cases.
He stated this in a 10-point plan of his office for the urgent need “to adjust the judicial process to make for recovery of lost grounds occasioned by the lockdown.”
Nigerian judges usually proceed on annual vacation between mid-July and mid-September.
But Malami said on Monday that the period of the ongoing lockdown and restrictions imposed in different parts of the country to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus would have afforded the judges enough time to rest.
The minister proposed, “Setting aside special dates and that courts work extra hours to decongest their case files.
“The 2020 court vacation could be suspended as the COVID-19 lockdown period has provided judges with the much-needed break from official duties.”
He called for the “appointment of more judges and justices, as appropriate,” adding that “judicial decisions of federal courts are to be created” as a proactive measure to “help in decongesting the already loaded court hearing schedules.”
Malami noted that the “paradigm shift” to be adopted in the post-COVID-19 era would be driven essentially by the adoption of Information Technology, which would encompass electronic filing of cases and payment of filing fees.
He stated, “The judiciary adopted a Judiciary Information Technology Policy in 2012 to guide the use of ICT by the judiciary.
“In this wise, the Supreme Court introduced electronic filing and this has also been adopted by some states’ high courts.
“One major lesson from COVID-19 is that the Nigerian Justice Sector must seriously leverage technology in the improvement of its capacity and for facilitating fair and speedy administration of justice.”