A civil society organisation (CSO), Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI-Nigeria) has launched its first-ever Performance Management System to revolutionize the administration of justice for optimum efficiency.
NULAI-Nigeria said it is monitoring the performance of judges not on the way they adjudicate cases but on the way they discharge and fast track the cases.
Speaking at the launch of the Electronic Performance Management System (PMS) and Training Manual for the reform of pre-trial detention in Nigeria, the programme manager, NULAI-Nigeria, Mahmud Yusuf, said the manual process has made it difficult for cases to continue after some Magistrates retired, were promoted or transferred because it becomes difficult to track all the cases collected manually.
Yusuf, who said the project is supported by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US States Department, said they will now use the technology to build the capacity of the Nigerian Prison Service to have a digital structure and provide assistance for Legal representation adding that the programme started in 2018 but will now leverage on technology to reduce the pre-trial detention.
“In the area of legal representation, we have partners in Nasarawa State University, Baze University, University of Abuja and Nile University where students interview people under detention in Kuje and Keffi correctional centres, give us the reports and we engage lawyers to provide pro bono services.”
“The students interview the detainees, do verification in the courts, contact relatives but the legal representation is provided by the pro bono lawyers. Many people were not charged when we carried out a verification and out of 40 people interviewed, 34 were released.”
“Over 180 cases were discovered to have no return date. Many of the judges transferred and others were promoted but the cases were not continued. We want to close such a gap using the technology to aid the job of the judges. Cases stayed for two years without a return date.”
“We have started a pilot programme in seven magistrate districts in the FCT and with time, we will expand to other states, “ Yusuf said.
“We are monitoring the performance of judges not on the way they adjudicate cases but on the way they discharge and fast track the cases,” Yusuf said while giving an overview of the PMS for the FCT magistrate courts that is basically a digital system of performance.
The chief judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf who was represented by Justice Njideka Nsosu-Iheme, said the project will help provide solutions to some of the problems they are facing.
“Today, we are indeed making history by launching our first ever Performance Management System to revolutionize the administration of justice for optimum efficiency. This innovation bears an eloquent statement of our unflinching commitment as a court to continually prioritize deployment of technology as judicial aid to enhance greater efficiency in the administration of justice by helping to provide solutions to complex problems that were previously handled manually.
I have no doubt therefore that this Performance management system, which is basically designed to provide a well-articulated process for accomplishing and evaluation of activities within defined timelines for both management and staff, will support the courts to facilitate monitoring and tracking of assignment of cases, as well as to identify and resolve gaps and obstacles to timely trial, particularly in scheduling of court dates. I’m convinced that the result of this painstaking paradigm shift towards technology will equip us to provide efficient services that readily come with numerous important outcomes for lawyers, litigants and other court users, “ Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf said.
The director, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US States Department, Jason Smith said they supported the project for people to have access to justice.
Smith said they have been strengthening the justice system in Nigeria and want everyone to have access to justice, especially the criminal Justice system.
The chief registrar, FCT High Court, Hon Hadiza Mohammed, said the project will help in efficiency in the courts.