Supreme Court strikes out Lagos and Ekiti’s lawsuit challenging legality of virtual court sittings

A lawsuit filed by the Lagos and Ekiti state governments challenging the legality of virtual court sittings, has been struck out by the Supreme Court. 


The Attorney-General of Ekiti State, Mr Olawale Fapohunda had asked the court to determine whether the directive issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation to the Heads of Courts at Federal and State levels, as it relates to the conduct of virtual proceedings in court is not a violation of the federalism provisions of the 1999 Constitution.


Fapohunda who asked the court to set aside or strike down directives to the extent that they purport to be binding on the Ekiti State High Court for being inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, also asked the apex court to determine if the directive issued in line with the National Judicial Council is not a violation of the constitutional provisions on fair hearing as it relates to the conduct of criminal trials in public.


Attorney General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) on his own part, argued that the case by his state was to prevent a situation where after virtual sittings are conducted, they would be declared unconstitutional as it was the case in Orji Kalu case.


However Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour who led the seven-man panel which presided over the case on Tuesday July 14, ruled that virtual court sittings are not unconstitutional.


He said; 


 “Just let us wait for the National Assembly whether what they will come up with go against the practice direction issued by Chief Judges of the states and the National Judicial Council (NJC) on virtual sitting.”


Rhodes-Vivour added that it is after the National Assembly has passed its pending Bill seeking to include virtual sitting in the Constitution that anyone can challenge the constitutionality or otherwise of such an enactment and whether it violates the powers of heads of courts to regulate proceedings.


He said; 


“As at now, virtual siting is not unconstitutional. Honourable Attorney General (referring to Onigbajo), go and tell your Chief Judge to ask the judges to continue to sit virtually if it s convenient for them.”

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