Nigeria’s highest court’s chief justice, Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has praised the country’s telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), calling it “worthy” for its work in raising the general public’s and the judiciary’s understanding of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
On Monday in Kano, the NCC kicked off its annual workshop for judges on telecommunications matters, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who is also the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the NJI, delivered the opening remarks.
According to Justice Ariwoola, the Internet is becoming a prominent feature of this era, with innovative and interactive influences on the public, so it has surpassed the traditional method of court service delivery, which is why the workshop is so important.
The Chief Justice Network (CJN) said that the workshop’s theme, “The Adjudication Path in a Digital Era,” resonates with the current realities that judicial officers face as a result of the profound changes that technology has brought about in the ways in which people communicate, have access to information, and carry out legal proceedings.
‘We are obligated to accept this shift while making sure that doing justice stays at the forefront of our efforts,’ he said.
The Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court of Appeal of Nigeria, the Federal High Court of Nigeria, the State High Courts of Nigeria, and the National Judicial Institute (NJI), were welcomed to the workshop by the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who informed them that the Nigerian Communications Act,(NCA) 2003 is currently undergoing a fundamental review to update its provisions.
The chief judicial officer of the country stated that the workshop provides a venue for discussing the difficulties brought on by the digital revolution and an opportunity to provide the judiciary with the tools they will need to function effectively in the modern era.
Convergence of data privacy and information security law needs to be a top research priority.
Concerns about privacy, security, and the protection of individual rights are paramount in light of the vast quantities of data being created and collected online.
According to Ariwoola, “as Judicial Officers, you are responsible for carefully assessing the legal implications of data collation, storage, and utilization,” and “by striking a harmonious balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding privacy,” the Lords would build trust in the digital ecosystem and protect people’s rights.
In his opening remarks, the EVC/CEO of NCC thanked the CJN and other members of the judiciary’s upper echelon for attending the workshop and reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to educating the judicial branch about the digital future as a vital and essential branch of government.
Danbatta assured stakeholders that they would be given a chance to provide input as the NCC began reviewing its enabling legislation, the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003 (NCA, 2003), in response to the rapid changes in the telecommunications and technology space.
Danbatta, speaking on the significance of the event, remarked that the telecommunications sector has developed since the NCA 2003 came into being, and therefore it is necessary to be responsive and ready to keep pace with the dynamism of technologies as they emerge.
The EVC remarked that the workshop gave the Commission a great chance to consult with the Judiciary about using digital technologies to improve the administration of justice.
When asked about the Federal Government’s plan for the digital economy, he responded, “The communications sector, through infrastructure deployment, has continually ensured that the digital economy is established on a solid foundation.” It has also been the impetus for the smooth integration of public and private sector activity in the online sphere.
But we know that in every digital economy, a tangled network of economic and social relationships will inevitably emerge.
A secure and reliable backbone infrastructure and an efficient adjudicatory process, both of which are readily available in the digital environment, are thus necessary to inspire public trust in the digital economy, as he put it.
To ensure that the Court, as the last hope of the common man, is securely knit into the fabric of the digital economy, the NCC has been working in close coordination with the NJI to build capacity for judges in this area, as the EVC explained.
Danbatta elaborated on this in an interview conducted on the fringes of the workshop: “We have the Nigerian Communications Act, which formed the NCC in 2003, more than 20 years ago.
The Chief Justice of the Federation has already deemed this Act to be archaic, meaning it is outdated and in need of revision; I have assured my judicial colleagues that revisions are currently being made to the Act.
The media will be asked to attend the public presentation of the revised NCC Act to an engagement forum with key members of the sector and Nigerians who subscribe to telecommunications services at the opportune moment. They’ll get a say before the revised law is introduced to the public.
In 2023, the NCC and the National Judicial Institute (NJI) held a national workshop for justices and judges to discuss the law as it pertains to telecommunications.