Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the endorsement of virtual court proceedings by a Supreme Court ruling was a step in the right direction.
Osinbajo made this submission at a webinar Thursday on media coverage of virtual court proceedings in Nigeria organised by the Gavel International Limited.
The vice president said that the ruling had saved Nigeria’s system of justice the challenge of technical decisions around the constitutionality of virtual proceedings among other issues.
“We are at a point where at least we know that virtual hearings are legal.
“This means that the Supreme Court is satisfied that appropriate means can be found to ensure that hearings are public and that the press and indeed members of the public can access the proceedings.
“I think that an opportunity that this offers us is to get rid of this issue of technicality as much as possible; and I am so pleased that the Supreme Court did not even hesitate in saying that virtual proceedings are legal.
“It is really a breath of fresh air considering the ways that we tend to magnify the issue of technicality to the point where you wonder where justice is,” Osinbajo said.
He said that the adoption of virtual proceedings would also be an opportunity to dispense with several of the unnecessary technical rules in adjectival law, laws of procedure, evidence and others.
The vice president added that the ruling also meant that the press and indeed members of the public could access the proceedings.
“If for example, the Zoom platform is the preferred option, the host, the registrar of the court will simply invite the press by making available the relevant coordinates of the meeting to enable the press, not just the print media, log on to the proceedings.
“Just as the physical court can only sit a determined number of persons so the virtual court, depending on the platform being used, would probably have a stated number of persons who can access the proceedings.
“Practice directions may have to indicate how and in what order invitations would be issued especially to the public.
“News Reporting today is of course no longer the preserve of traditional media; every blogger, micro blogger and other social networking services are now entitled to describe themselves as the press.
“And I can say that they have the same constitutional protections as the traditional media would have, given that our definition of freedom of expression does not restrict this to the press as we understand that expression.”
Furthermore, he lauded the Attorneys-General of Lagos and Ekiti States for bringing the matter before the Supreme Court.