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How Constitutional is Virtual Court Proceedings

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not provide for virtual court proceedings since no one envisaged the outbreak of a virus that would make everyone stay at home. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has caused the National Judicial Council to approve virtual court proceedings and also to assess it as a major development in the legal system.

However, the constitutionality of the virtual court proceedings might be in question, especially as the Constitution provided that any other law which is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. Since the 1999 Constitution did not provide for a case of virtual proceedings, the directive issued by the National Judicial Council might pose a great problem to the Nigerian legal system.

This has made the Lagos State Government file an action against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Minister of Justice and the National Assembly in the Supreme Court in order to contest the constitutionality of virtual court proceedings. Since the role of the judiciary is to interprete laws, we await the interpretation of the Supreme Court on this legal issue.

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