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Supreme Court introduces electronic reporting

Before now, when people from the advanced world enter the Supreme Court of Nigeria while the court is in session, they are likely to exclaim,…

Before now, when people from the advanced world enter the Supreme Court of Nigeria while the court is in session, they are likely to exclaim, “oh these judges are still writing in long hand!” But that has now changed with the new face of the court with its computer systems and audio visual display and recording equipment.

In an interview with Barr Ahmed Saleh, a former Chief Registrar of the SC recently, before he resumed his new appointment, he said the apex court’s comprehensive course list (list of appeals entertained daily  by the court) are now posted and available weekly on the website of the SC.

When Daily Trust visited the SC, some of the new facilities have already been test run during a mock trial which took place at the apex court and the audience said that a lot has been put in place.

For the first time in the history of the SC and the Nigerian Judiciary, the internal structure and fittings of the courtroom, known as the SC (court one), have been completely re-structured, re-constructed and re-fitted with ultra-modern digital and state of the art equipment and computers that can compete comparatively with courts anywhere in the advanced world.

Some of the places with new features, computers and modern gadgets in the new computerised courtroom, include Justices’ Bench now fitted with computer displays and audio visual equipment that enable the judge to view exhibits and documents, control court proceedings and make research on citations. These features are also available on the court registrar’s and attorney’s desks for efficiency. 

The latest technologies, according to stakeholders, will enable the courtroom to be connected to a unified system that has a central repository for all audio/video recordings, proceedings and associated linked notes. The court record includes the transcript, audio or audio and video recordings of any hearing, appearance and courtroom proceedings.

Also test run during the mock trial was the For The Record (FTR) software, a powerful solution for digital court reporting which allows real-time transcription and transmission of court proceedings. This software, it was gathered, works by capturing, annotating, playing back and managing the record of court proceedings. Up to 4-channel audio can be recorded and managed. 

The FTR Reporter also facilitates electronic court reporting through linked note-taking as well as review and playback of pre-recorded content.

One of the high lights of the mock trial was the high technology mobile podium for presenting evidence. It is mounted on a swivel base to enable the presenter face the judges or the barristers as may be required. The podium contains a touch-screen monitor for viewing and make-up of evidence sources including the document camera and various other inputs.

To ensure good quality sound, the court has been fitted with six pairs of Extron Speed Mount 2-Way Surface Mount Speakers with 6.5’’ Woofer and 70/100 V Transformer suitably located around the room.

The former Chief Registrar, with the support of the CJN, embarked on infrastructural upgrading of the facilities and face-lifting of the complex to enhance performance efficiency and provide conducive working environment for both the justices and the supporting staff of the apex court.

For instance, the roofing sheets of the entire complex have also been replaced. The vast external white tiled walls were craftily cleaned up with chemical and machines, while the internal walls have been re-painted.

A marble-tiled justices ‘retiring room containing dining, rest rooms and relaxing furnishings has been constructed adjacent to a court room in the complex to provide comfort for the justices, especially after court sessions. The retiring room, is necessary during a stand down of an appeal for the justices in the panel hearing the appeal to consult with one another before taking decision. Attached to this retiring room is a library for easy research/reference by the justices in case lawyers appearing before the panels made ambiguous or frivolous submissions.

One only hopes that with the improved Supreme Court, the issue of court congestion would be drastically reduced.