By Abdulwahab Abdulah
The Judiciary Information System, JIS, has been launched as part of activities marking the 2013/2014 legal year of the Lagos State Judiciary. The launch in Lagos reflects the desire of the incumbent state Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Philips to make the state judiciary, one that will boast of current Information Technology formations. Recalling her comment, while she was being sworn-in as the Chief Judge, Justice Philips said she would ensure that the affairs of the state judiciary were conducted in line with modern information technology.
This perhaps explains the introduction of the Judiciary Information System. With the launch of the JIS, the state judiciary can compete favourably with leading judiciaries across the world. Apart from creating an avenue for stakeholders, especially lawyers to do so many things in comfort of their chambers, including the management of their clients’ cases, the new technology will ease “the strenuous case management workflow and ensure transparency in the judiciary system.” The initiative is to assist the personnel of the Judiciary and lawyers to transact their businesses without stress.
Boosting revenue base
This accordingly, will enable lawyers file cases and make payments over a secured web portal with a credit, debit card or direct bank payment from the comfort of their offices as well as get acknowledgement of their transactions. According to the consultant to the project, First High Tower Info Tech Limited, JIS, is capable of boosting the revenue base of the state judiciary, since the system charges automatically, while incoming revenues are better accounted for.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sanni Eniola, said lawyers who have registered on the portal can keep track of their cases from anywhere in the world via the internet, using a secure login user name and password.
He said “the judiciary manpower can effectively and efficiently be utilised, case management is streamlined, resulting in a higher number of cases being processed annually.”
According to him, JIS also has the advantage of a standardised workflow that would be utilised across the Lagos Judiciary divisions, noting that “the use of the system will ensure resolution of conflicts fairly, timely, transparently and economically.”
Apart from the workflow, the JIS has the advantage of e-filing, online research and online report among others.
Discussing the mordalities of usage, Eniola told the legal practitioners that all they needed to do was to simply enter the website of the Lagos Judiciary and fill out a user registration form, create and register a username, password and e-mail.
Once registered, “a lawyer can file his case from anywhere in the world, upload documents and make payments using his or her debit or credit card, which must have also been registered on the system from the very first time it was used.”
The good thing about the initiative, he said was that the JIS had been configured to accommodate all activities of lawyers for defence and plaintiffs and even judges, as it “enables parties in a case to gain an instant access to judgment of the courts by a registered user, as it will be delivered because the system operates realtime online.”
He noted that various security measures had also been built into the software to accommodate the various suits a laeyers might want to file in court, such as criminal, civil, commercial, land matters, among others.
He said that data fed into the system are secured and cannot be accessed by anybody not authoriseed to do so or who has not subscribed for the programme, because they are encrypted as soon as they are fed into the system.
Enumerating the advantages to be gained from the new package, the state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, at the Mosque services held for the legal year, implored lawyers, especially those practising in the state to get involved in the JIS to avoid delay in the administration of justice delivery.
Fashola, who spoke through the state Attorney General and commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said: “Everybody must be involved if the administration of justice must not be delayed. They should comply with new court rules and ensure adherence to e-filing and the digitalisation of the judicial system.” The initiative was also lauded by eminent jurists, who graced the event, including retired justice of the Supreme Court, Justice George Oguntade, who congratulated the Lagos State Judiciary for setting the pace in e-filing, while urging all stakeholders in adjudication of justice to ensure that cases were speedily dispensed with, with the JIS.
Mr Ipaye, has, meanwhile, called for speedy dispensation of civil actions inline with the rule of court now that JIS is being implemented.