Hon. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has praised the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its tireless efforts to increase knowledge of Information Communications Technologies (ICT) among the Nigerian public in general and the judiciary in particular.
The 2023 edition of the annual workshop for judges on telecoms matters, organised by the NCC and starting on Monday in Kano, featured a keynote address by the CJN, who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the NJI.
The use of the Internet is increasingly common in this era, with innovative and interactive influences on the general public, which is why the workshop is so important, according to Justice Ariwoola, who claimed that information technology and telecommunication services have surpassed the traditional method of providing court services.
The CJN commented on the workshop’s topic, “The Adjudication Path in a Digital Era,” saying it resonates with the contemporary realities that judicial officials must deal with due to technological advancements that have profoundly changed how they interact with one another, obtain information, and carry out legal processes.
We must welcome this change while making sure that achieving justice is still at the top of our priorities, he added.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, welcomed the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and other Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court, Appeal Court, Federal High and States High Courts, as well as the NJI, to the workshop and informed them that the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 is currently undergoing a fundamental review to update its provisions.
The workshop offers a forum for an effective discussion of the challenges the judiciary faces as a result of the digital revolution, according to the nation’s top judge, and it also provides an opportunity to arm the judiciary with the knowledge needed to handle the digital era.
Prioritising the study of the intersection of data privacy and information security law is also vital.
“Critical problems about privacy, security, and the defence of individual rights are raised by the tremendous volume of data that is produced and compiled in the digital sphere.
Your Lordships would foster trust in the digital ecosystem while upholding individual rights if you struck a harmonious balance between fostering innovation and protecting privacy, Ariwoola said. “As Judicial Officers, you are responsible for carefully assessing the legal implications of data collection, storage, and utilisation.”
In his welcome speech, the EVC/CEO of NCC thanked the CJN and the highest ranking members of the judiciary for making the time to attend the workshop and pledged the Commission’s determination to advance knowledge of the digital future on the judiciary as a vital and indispensable branch of the government.
Danbatta stated that the NCC has taken action to begin the review of its enabling legislation, the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA, 2003), while assuring that stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide input to the amendment. The NCC is responsive to the rapid changes in the telecommunications and technology space, according to Danbatta.
When discussing the significance of the workshop, Danbatta pointed out that the telecommunications industry has changed since the NCA 2003 was established, necessitating the necessity to be adaptable in order to keep up with the dynamism of emerging technologies.
The EVC stated that the workshop gave the Commission plenty of chance to interact with the Judiciary on how to use digital technology to advance the administration of justice.
“The communications sector, through the deployment of infrastructure, has consistently ensured that the Federal Government’s agenda for the digital economy is established on a solid foundation,” he added. It has also shown to be the driving force behind the seamless integration of the operations of the public and commercial sectors in the digital sphere.
“However, we acknowledge that the emergence of a complex network of business dealings and social interactions is inevitable in any digital economy.
Accordingly, he said, “at least two things are required to instill societal confidence in the digital economy: a safe and effective backbone infrastructure, as well as an efficient adjudicating mechanism, which is easily accessible in the digital space.”
This fact, according to the EVC, guides the NCC’s persistent engagement with the NJI to build judges’ ability in this area. The Court, the final bastion of the common man, will be thoroughly ingrained into the fabric of the digital economy, the EVC said.
Danbatta said, “We have the Nigerian Communications Act, which formed the NCC in 2003, more than 20 years ago, in an interview on the sidelines of the workshop.
Previously, the Chief Justice of the Federation declared this Act to be anachronistic, which means it has to be revised since it is outdated. I reassured the judiciary that this review is now in progress.
“At the appropriate time, media representatives will be asked to attend the public presentation of the updated NCC Act at a forum for discussion with stakeholders in the sector and Nigerians who use telecoms services. They will be able to voice their opinions when the revised Act is presented to the general public.
Together with the National Judicial Institute (NJI), the NCC sponsored the 2023 National Workshop for Justices and Judges on Legal Issues in Telecommunication Matters.