Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, says virtual court proceedings will eliminate the challenges faced in moving inmates from correctional facilities to courts.
Malami said this on Monday during the launch of the virtual court sitting facilities at the Kuje correctional centre, Abuja.
The attorney-general said the initiative will boost the country’s economy by ensuring that funds meant for the movement of inmates are channeled to other essential areas of need in correctional facilities.
“This initiative will in no small measure help boost the economy by ensuring that funds meant for the movement of the inmates would be channeled to other essential areas of needs in the correctional centres and assist the country to meet up with global best practice in terms of the Administration of Criminal Justice,” he said.
Commenting on the legality of virtual court proceedings, the minister of justice said the initiative is in line with section 36(3) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), which stipulates that court proceedings should be public.
Malami also said the virtual court proceedings provide for arraignment of suspects, taking of evidence, tendering of documents and cross-examination of witnesses.
“I assure you that the virtual court proceedings are in compliance with the provisions of section 36(3) of the Constitution, which provides for public court sitting or hearing,” he added.
“The virtual court proceedings meet up with the expectation of the constitution and are not private hearings but open to the respective counsel involved, the litigants (inmates) and the general public at large.
“In addition, it is important to note that this virtual court hearing will not in any way contravene the provision of section 36(6) of the 1999 constitution which provides for the arraignment, taking of evidence, tendering of documents, cross-examination and general conduct of criminal proceedings.
“In as much as these are done in accordance with the said provision, the virtual hearing would be valid.”
Malami commended the government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)spotlight initiative for providing funding support for the project.