Supreme Court okays virtual hearings of cases

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the decision of Lagos and Ekiti State to hear cases virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour held that virtual court sittings are presumed to be valid and not been declared unconstitutional by the apex court.

Justice Rhodes-Vivour ruled that “as of today, virtual sitting is not unconstitutional.”

Justice Rhodes-Vivour gave the ruling while hearing separate suits filed by the attorneys-general of Lagos Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) and Ekiti states’ Olawale Fapohunda on the adoption of remote hearings by judges in their states.

Lagos State had filed a suit challenging the power of the National Assembly to amend section 274 of the Constitution which seeks to include virtual proceedings in the constitution.

Ekiti State, on the other hand, had urged the court to make an affirmative decision to remove the speculations and uncertainties being entertained about the virtual hearing by judges.

The Rhodes-Vivour panel described the suits of both the Lagos and Ekiti states’ attorney-generals as speculative as the suits did not disclose how virtual proceedings had injured the interest or right of anyone.

Onigbanjo and Fapohunda then withdrew the suits after members of the apex court panel described the suits and academic and speculative.

The judge maintained that the chief judges of the states that had issued practice direction to provide for virtual sitting should enforce the directive.

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