Thursday, September 3, 2020 12:05 am
The debate has been on since covid-19 started its hideous tour of the world. Do verdicts delivered by judges online or by zoom have the same gravity or legality as those done in conventional courts? Ordinary laymen in matters of the Bar and the Bench may be at sea in the ebb and flow of arguments. But experts will do justice to the matter.
Thus, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a Professor of Law, will today, 3 September, deliver a keynote address in an online conference titled “Media Coverage of Virtual Court Proceedings: Prospects and Challenges,” organized by Gavel International, an online news platform that covers the adminstration of justice system in Nigeria.
According to a press statement signed by the Publisher of Gavel International, Mustapha Adekunle Ogunsakin, the conference has become crucial particularly now that Covid-19 has changed so many things across the world, even the court system.
He said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected systems, norms, institutions and countries across the world, including our beloved country, Nigeria. The administration of justice system of our country is particularly affected as stakeholders seem not to be prepared for the challenges the pandemic has incurred;
Since lock-down started in late March 2020, Courts across the country are just beginning to sit. The Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chief Judges of States are now making Practice Directions to allow Courts to sit online via social media platforms such as Zoom and Skype!
Now, part of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution is public hearing of Court proceedings. There was a recent decision of the Supreme Court which ordered a case to start ‘de novo’ because a trial court delivered Judgment in the Judge’s Chambers, and not in an open court. Due to this constitutional provision, Courts in Nigeria make available Press Galleries for journalists in recognition of the Media as representatives of the people during court proceedings. The media as the representative of the public therefore ensures fair hearing and fair trial in dispute resolution.
With the “new normal” the world is in,the question that readily comes to mind is: “How can the media fulfill its constitutionally provided role in the coverage of virtual trials?” It is in light of this that Gavel International has put together this webinar to discuss the role of the media in the coverage of virtual court proceedings.
Others to join the Vice President is this discourse are Justice Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole(JCA) of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, former President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, former General Secretary,NBA, Mr Dele Adesina SAN, human rights crusader, Femi Falana SAN, former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof Chidi Odinkalu, and Mr Richard Akinnola, Publisher, Anti-Corruption Journal
The webinar will be moderated by Dr Reuben Abati,former Senior Special Adviser (Media) to President Goodluck Jonathan, and ably assisted by Mrs Shola Soyele of Channels television. The time of the webinar is 2.00pm
Mustapha Adekunle Ogunsakin’s Profile
Mustapha Adekunle Ogunsakin, a journalist, hails from a very prominent family in Ado-Ekiti, the Capital City of Ekiti State. He began his working career with Courtroom, a Lagos based judicial magazine. He briefly worked with the Ondo State Ministry of Information in 1993 as a pioneer staff with New Era Magazine.
He also worked with TNT, an evening newspaper before joining The Guardian Newspapers in 1998, where he spent 10 years and rose to the position of Senior Correspondent.
From there, he worked with National Mirror Newspapers as the pioneer Judicial Editor.
Armed with a wealth of experience in his field of Judicial Journalism and his vision for an improved judiciary in Nigeria, Ogunsakin started the Gavel International magazine in 2012, which presently operates online at (thegavel.com.ng) and provides cutting edge contents on happenings in the Nigerian Judiciary.
He also doubles as a Special Project Consultant to Major Newspapers and Law firms in Nigeria. He is the author of For the Love of their Nation, Lawyers As Agents of Change in Nigeria, a book that sheds light on legal officers’ contributions to national development in Nigeria.