The Supreme Court has ruled that virtual court sittings are not unconstitutional.
The ruling followed suits filed by Attorney-General of Lagos State, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) and Attorney-General of Ekiti State, Olawale Fapohunda (SAN) to seek the apex court’s interpretation of the constitution to determine whether or not virtual court proceedings/sittings are constitutional.
At the court session on Tuesday, a seven-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour held that virtual court sittings are presumed to be valid, dismissing fears said to be entertained by many judges as to the constitutionality of remote hearings in the country.
The apex court held that judges across the country should continue to conduct virtual proceedings, where it is comfortable for them, until the National Assembly concludes its ongoing effort to amend the Constitution to accommodate virtual hearing.
“As at now, virtual siting is not unconstitutional. Honourable Attorney General [referring to Onigbanjo], go and tell your Chief Judge to ask the judges to continue to sit virtually if it’s convenient for them,” Justice Rhodes-Vivour said.
The Supreme Court judges noted that for now, it’s premature to challenge the constitutionality or otherwise of virtual court proceedings because the legislature is still in the process of amending the Constitution or enact a law to that effect.
The panel described the suits of both the Lagos and Ekiti states’ AGs as speculative as the suits did not disclose how virtual proceedings had injured the interest or right of anyone.
In view of the position expressed by the judges to the effect that the suits are premature and that the directive on virtual court proceedings enjoy presumption of regularity, Onigbanjo and Fapohunda proceeded to withdraw their suits.
The seven-man panel, therefore, struck out the suits.