Suspected thieves have burgled the office of the Chief Judge of Ogun State and carted away virtual sitting equipment bought by the state government.
Mosunmola Dipeolu, the chief judge, disclosed this Tuesday at the launch of the case management and scheduling system; an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tool for judges to aid quick dispensation of justice in the state.
The government and the judiciary had considered the digitisation of the state judiciary system in their effort to ensure that court sittings are not suspended indefinitely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mrs Dipeolu said the state judiciary had begun partial digitisation of judicial processes last year during the COVID-19 lockdown period by adopting virtual sitting for court proceedings.
But this development, according to her, suffered a setback “after the hoodlums attacked her office and carted away the gadgets installed for the same purpose”.
The chief judge, who did not give details of the equipment stolen, argued that digitisation of the judiciary is not achievable until full autonomy is given to the judiciary.
“Digitisation as we all know is capital intensive and so without judiciary autonomy it may not be achievable. More than ever the need for digitisation is very important now in view of the effect and the new normal situation foisted upon the whole world by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
“In the year 2020, after the relaxation of lockdown, I issued practice directions one and two of 2020 on virtual sitting to reduce to the barest minimum interaction with people generally as the situation demanded.
“In a bid to aid this, the state governor, Dapo Abiodun approved and provided equipment in my court as a pilot scheme for virtual sitting. While my brother judges in Abeokuta and other divisions in Ogun state used the zoom app with their laptops to conduct virtual sittings.
“However, sometime ago, thieves broke into my court and stole the equipment, since then I have also been using my laptop to conduct virtual sittings. Virtual sitting is a very minor part of digitisation which is very desirable in case scheduling and the only challenge the Ogun state judiciary faces in executing full digitisation is the provision of internet facility.”
Mrs Dipeolu said the case management and scheduling system would enable judges have access to the details of cases assigned to them at a touch of a button from either their laptops or mobile phones.
She said the state judiciary had established and equipped a staff development centre for training judges and other judicial staff in preparation for the digitisation of the judicial system.
The state governor, Dapo Abiodun, described the digital platform as “a legal innovation in our clime”, adding that Ogun is the first state to introduce such innovation in the country.
Mr Abiodun also added that the launch of the case management and scheduling system is a significant first step towards the automation of judicial processes.