By Onozure Dania
Lawyers in the country have been charged to deepen their skills in the area of oral advocacy, generation and presentation of electronic evidence so as to be in a position to advance the cause of their client in view of the emerging trend in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The charge which was made at a three-day workshop on Oral Advocacy and Electronic Evidence is coming on the heels of the important role technology now play in business and resolution of technologically related disputes.
The workshop which held in Abuja was put together by Attorney General Alliance/ Africa Alliance Partnership, AGA/AAP in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NIALS.
Speaking on the occasion, Director General of NIALS, Prof. MuhammedLadan, harped on the need for both prosecution and defence lawyers to have a full grasp of the concept and place of electronic evidence in modern-day jurisprudence.
According to the DG electronic evidence is fast gaining ground in Nigeria with more than 40 cases decided through the use of electronically generated evidence between 2011 and date. The law professor, however, stressed that for lawyers to succeed in the deployment of electronically generated evidence in arguing their case in court, much attention must be placed on presentation just as generating the said electronic evidence.
“Since 2011 till date, we have nothing less than 40 cases decided where pieces of evidence electronically generated had been admitted, questioned with some asked to be re-evaluated.
“I think the trend on the part of our judiciary is understanding the need to attach weight because you can prepare as a prosecutor or as a lawyer and you can actually meet all the requirements, but the big question that follows the admissibility of such piece of evidence is the question that comes from the judges, what weight do I attach to this piece of evidence electronically generated and why should I attach the weight to it in the first instance?”
Ladan added that lawyers should also consider that even if the electronically generated evidence is important among other pieces of evidence, it is not the only evidence that a judge uses to decide a case.
He further disclosed that for electronic evidence to be accepted it must be credible, reliably authenticated as required by section 84 of the Evidence Act.
So it is not just generating electronic evidence from the server or computer or from the polling unit, it must be authenticated as required by section 84. When you generate some electronic evidence you must meet the requirement of reliability, you must meet the requirement of authenticity and you must also meet the requirement that it can actually stand to prove a fact in the issue or fact relevant to the case.
On his part, AGA/AAP board member, Markus Green, observed that skills in Oral Advocacy and Electronic Evidence are necessary tools for lawyers to perform optimally in modern times.