World Class High -Tech Supreme Court of Nigeria
Although the tenure of office of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed was very short, being 10 days less than two years, stakeholders in the administration of justice in Nigeria agreed that his outing was very fantastic and commendable.
Justice Mahmud Mohammed was sworn into office as the 15th Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on November 20, 2014.
That was after the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Aloma Muhktar bowed out of the bench for attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.
Before he was sworn in, he had a clear idea of what he wanted to do: to do justice to all manners of people without fear or favour; to lead other judicial officers in the country by example; to scapegoat errant judicial officers if any still remains on the bench by kicking them out; to turn around the operations of the judiciary and give the Supreme Court infrastructure an unprecedented upgrade since 1993 when the building was put in use.
As soon as Mahmud took over the affairs of the judiciary, he knew he had a limited time and had to hit the ground running.
The first thing he did was to pick one of the Deputy Chief Registrars of the Supreme Court whom he felt would help him achieve his goals, regarding the litigative, ceremonial and constitutional duties of his office.
Of course, he found the Mr Right in the person of Barrister Ahmed Gambo Saleh.
Both of them sat down together to brainstorm on how to achieve the joint mission.
They were able to flow very well because it appeared they shared the same philosophy.
After two years in the saddle, Justice Mahmud Mohammed looked back and declared that he had indeed done his best for the judiciary and was fulfilled.
The Chief Registrar, Barrister Saleh, too sat down to review his operations in the last two years and also said he was fulfilled but that he was roaring to do more for the judiciary, his career having just started.
The question, now, is: what actually did the Chief Justice and his Chief Registrar do either jointly or individually that gave them fulfillment?
According to Kvale (1996), “if you want to know how people understand their world and their life, why not talk to them.” Taking a cue, Bar and Bench Watch interacted with both the CJN and the Chief Registrar to hear them out. Besides, other key staff of the Supreme Court were also interviewed while our team also went after major stakeholders in the judiciary to render their opinions on the administration.
As if there was a prior conference on what their verdicts should be, the interaction with individual respondents turned out to be a session of praise showering for the administration.
According to a former Abia State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN), “the tenure of recent chief justices of Nigeria has been too short to enable a dispassionate assessment of the contributions of the chief justice and not the court itself.
Prof Awa Kalu (SAN)
“This is because the chief justice is the primus inter pares. He is the head of court as well the chief justice of the Federation.
“So, when you are looking at somebody who has done two years at the Supreme Court, it may not be enough for a forensic evaluation of the contributions he has made as chief justice.
“Being primus inter pares means he should have his own idea of the law; he should have his idea of jurisprudence; he should have his idea of public policy; he should have his own notion of how justice should balance the equilibrium in the society.
“Two years is too short. Nonetheless, without any equivocation, I will say that what I find within his tenure is that he brought his weight to bear on the cases that had accumulated before him.
“My understanding is that there were a number of pending political cases which were creating a little bit of tension in political circles.
“This is because in the nature of things, when a political dispute remains unresolved for a long time, first, speculations will mount. Two, tongues will start wagging. Three, fingers will be pointed and the rumour mill is energised.
“And so, my recollection is that as soon as he became chief justice, he cleared the political cases, particularly the pre-election cases that were pending before he assumed office. I will think that is a major achievement,” Kalu said.
From available records, Bar and Bench Watch can confirm that the Supreme Court heard 1,578 cases, consisting of 1,009 motions and 569 substantive appeals during the 2014/2015 legal year spanning September 16, 2014 when the legal year started and July 9, 2015 when it proceeded on its annual vacation while it delivered 262 Judgments during the legal year alone!
The Supreme Court statistics also showed that during the 2015/2016 legal year spanning September 28, 2015 and July 20, 2016, a total of 1,513 cases including motions on civil, criminal and political cases were heard while various appeals of the same genres were also heard.
According to Justice Mahmud, he said “we received over 500 new appeals filed in the last Legal year (referring to 2014/2015 legal year) alone at the rate of about ten new appeals per week, most of which were interlocutory in nature.
“Upon my assumption of office, I immediately constituted a second Panel in the Supreme Court to sit on Wednesdays in addition to the normal panel sitting in chambers on Wednesdays.
“This additional Panel sitting is a first in the history of the Court and it has certainly been extremely successful in its operations, as the special court disposed off 224 matters and dismissed over 300 other appeals from inception in November till date.
“I must therefore place on record my profound gratitude to my brother Justices for the sacrifices endured in the performance of their onerous duties, which involved panel sitting long after 6 pm on more than one occasion, in the interest of Justice.
“We have now devised means of further reducing the congestion by having two panels sitting simultaneously every week. This additional panel, which sits simultaneously with the regular panel, primarily looks into matters dealing with all appeals pending on issues of Jurisdiction; all interlocutory appeals where the substantive cases are still pending in the Court of first instance; and all pending pre-election appeals.
“I believe that the establishment of this additional panel of Justices at the Supreme Court is an appropriate response to the yearnings of all Nigerians for justice to be dispensed more quickly and effectively, as this will further build public confidence in the Court,” he said.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Oluwole Olanipekun (SAN) confirmed the claim by the CJN, saying the efforts of his administration saved the nation’s democracy.
According to Olanipekun (SAN), “without doubt, the tenure of office of Justice Mahmud has witnessed tremendous achievements, both at the Supreme Court in particular, and in terms of administration of justice in Nigeria generally.
“But for the courage and determination of His Lordship to be neutral and apolitical in handling the cases that came to the Supreme Court, leading to his presiding over most of the political cases that came to the apex court during his tenure, particularly after the general elections of 2015, our nascent democracy might have been threatened.
“For the first time in the history of the Supreme Court, very sensitive political cases were heard, and judgments delivered the same day, but reasons for judgments reserved.
“This was done for obvious reasons, and to my mind, in order to avoid lobbying.
“ In assessing his tenure, I will give him excellent.
“However, it is rather unfortunate that it was/is at the tail end of an otherwise scintillating tenure that some Judges’ houses were raided by security agencies on accusation of judicial corruption, here and there.
“The way and manner His Lordship rose up to the occasion in defence of the institution of the Judiciary and its independence, rather than the defence of any individual corrupt Judge deserve our commendation in the legal profession.
“I stand by him as a senior member of the Bar; although I abhor and condemn any trace of corruption on the Bench.
“There is no justifiable reason for any Judge, who is called upon to adjudicate on matters between his fellow human beings should swindle justice, and corrupt the Bench,” the legal luminary said.
Also attesting to Justice Mahmud’s selfless efforts, a legal titan and respected member of the inner bar, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) said: “Hon. Justice Mohammed even as the Chief Justice of Nigeria never shied away from presiding over delicate and political cases involving the Legislature and the Executives.
“He is industrious and diligent. He personally chaired panel of Justices in many election matters and his decisions are unassailable.
“He is bold, intelligent and knew the law, expected of his office as the head of the Judiciary. He applies industry and wisdom in all his decisions, “ Chief Awomolo (SAN) said.
Justice Mahmud was not done. He said that apart from practically de-congesting the court by ensuring two panels of Supreme Court sit contemporaneously, he said his administration also, during his short tenure, tried to improve the archival and retrieval process of case files.
According to him, ” the Supreme Court Registry, under the supervision of Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad, JSC, CFR, has worked assiduously to streamline and improve the archival and retrieval process of our case files.
“We are confident that from this Legal Year, the loss and/or misplacement of case files and its incendiary effects will be a thing of the past.
“Even though he (Justice Muhammad) is one of our own, I must express my sincere appreciation to his lordship for agreeing to undertake this additional assignment and performing creditably,” he said
Buttressing the claim of the Chief Justice of Nigeria on the innovation introduced into the Supreme Court registry to improve the archival and retrieval process, a Programme Analyst at the Data Centre of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Mr Mohammed told Bar and Bench Watch that the digitization of the Supreme Court Registry by Justice Mahmud’s administration had not only taken care of issue of loss of case files, it had also streamlined operations and kept the registry very neat.
Supreme Court Data Centre
According to him, “the introduction of Nigeria Case Management System otherwise known as (NCMS) which addresses the challenge of having records all over has been very helpful in streamlining operations at the registry.
“If you had visited the registry in those days before his Lordship became CJN, you would be sorry for us. It used to be jam-packed with records.
“To access a record that is up to four years old here was a serious task. But coming with the Nigeria Case Management System (NCMS), with the click of a button, you get what you want.
“And when you are getting the record, you get everything from when the case started to the last process filed.
“Each of the processes filed is uploaded. That means it is safe and secure here,” he said.
Corroborating him, Head of Litigation Record of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Mr Daniel Yahaya said the intervention of Justice Mahmud’s administration in the archival and retrieval process of court process, as far as he was concerned was unprecedented and the greatest achievement he had.
Mr Yahaya explaining how records are now kept
He said: “Before now, you cannot stay in this office for two minutes before you will begin to sneeze. It is because of old, dusty documents. This is the way the office used to look (showing our Team photos)
“What you saw here was exactly how this place used to be. It was like a refuse dump. What we did with the guidance of our Chief Registrar was sorting and classification. We sorted out the files and classified them into these boxes. That is why this place is looking neat now.
“So, we migrated from the refuse dump mode with the coming of this honourable chief registrar of the Supreme Court. In fact, within six months when he came on board, we migrated from refuse dump which you just saw by sorting and classifying case files serially according to years.
“The classification you are seeing on the shelf here, we also have the electronic version. I don’t need to come here.
“By the time he calls for any record, I will just log into the system and it will tell me the shelf number and the bay number. Under few minutes, I would have fed him back. He will now take it to the CJN,” he said.
The Head of Information Technology of the Supreme Court, Mr Agbeja Folorunso was also full of praises for the introduction of the NCMS in the management of records in the court.
Head of Supreme Court Information Communication Technology, Mr Agbeja
“What the case management system is supposed to do is to assist the court in having a digital copy of all the manual files that were brought to the court for registration.
” When a case comes in, the notice of appeal, the record of appeal, we now have them in soft copy, in digital format.
“Although it is still a work in progress but his lordship gave every necessary support and ensured that we have that software to have it in place here,” he added.
Retrofitting the Supreme Court to aid justice delivery
Agbeja said that one other achievement which no one could deny the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria was his noble plan to upgrade the courtrooms of the Supreme Court into a high tech performance-enhanced court.
He said his noble intention was targeted towards improving court efficiency through the use of technology and achieving a fair and speedy resolution of cases before the court.
Explaining why he was committed to the project notwithstanding unavailability of funds, Justice Mahmud said: “upon my assumption of office in 2014, I was confronted with extensive reforms required by the Judiciary in the area of Information and Communications Technology.
“While court automation was long overdue, a policy framework had been developed by my predecessors in office and I wasted no time in throwing my weight behind it.
“ In the area of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) use, the Supreme Court is currently working towards the introduction of court automation into our processes in order to resolve issues of delay, corruption and inefficiency in our judicial system,” adding that the project is now ready for delivery.
Director of Administration of the Supreme Court, Mr Sheu Usman Mohammed (MNI) told Bar and Bench Watch during inspection of the court facilities that the nation’s Supreme Court remains one of the best in the whole world.
The Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court himself, Mr Ahmed Saleh who is actually the big masquerade behind the implementation of the noble plan by Justice Mahmud to digitise court operations also took his time to explain the benefits of the new high tech Supreme Court.
Hear him: “this court, no doubt, is a world class. It has a number of benefits over the manual Supreme Court we used to have.
“Some of the features of the new high tech Supreme Court are technological enabled justices’ bench, high definition audio/ video recording equipment, FTR Court reporting software, high technology mobile podium for presentation, document camera, enhanced room audio speakers and enhanced capacity to view screens from the gallery.
“On the first feature of the digital court, what I mean is that the justices’ bench are fitted with computer displays and audio visual equipment that enable them to view exhibits and documents, control court proceedings and make research on citations.
“These features are also available on the court Registrar’s and attorneys’ desks for effective synchronisation.
“There is also the installation of high definition audio/ video recording equipment in the court which enables the courtroom to be connected to a unified system that has a central repository for all audio/video recordings of proceedings and associated linked notes
“Another feature of the court is the FTR Court Reporting Software. It is a powerful solution for digital court reporting.
“The software works by capturing, annotating, playing back and managing the record of court proceedings.
“Up to 4-channel audio can be recorded and managed.
“There is yet another facility called the mobile podium. It is mounted on a swivel base to enable the presenter face the judges or the barristers as may be required.
“The podium contains a touch screen monitor for viewing and mark up of evidence sources including the document camera and various other inputs.
“There are also USB and SD Card connections for displaying media from these external devices. There is a remote control that can be operated by the presenter.
“Then, there is this document camera which displays exhibits which can be viewed by judges, registrars and lawyers.
“The camera instantaneously converts a paper document or physical exhibits to an electronic image with the ability to enlarge and reduce the image as needed.
“This new design has high definition room camera unit strategically positioned in the court room as well as Fisheye camera to capture all aspects of the court room which enables full viewing and recording of court room session,” he said.
Taking it further, the Head of Information Technology, Mr Agbeja said “there is another component that his lordship was also instrumental to.
“And that is the email for lawyers. The project ensures that there is a valid email through which the court can serve court processes on lawyers. It is a wonderful project and lawyers have already keyed into it.
“And what that translates to is that instead of the court serving lawyers manually, which sometimes has been a big challenge, there is now an email for each of the lawyers which connects them to the court.
“Once a service is done electronically by email to a lawyer, once he has seen it in his box, it is assumed that he has been served and the suit can go on. I think these are the major landmark achievements of this administration regarding ICT,” he said.
Justice Mahmud said he was fulfilled himself with the progress so far made in that regard which eradicates the problem of service.
“This system was showcased recently at the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association and I am indeed pleased with the positive feedback which has continued to flow with regard to this initiative.
“Similarly, the Supreme Court is introducing a system for the issuance of e-hearing notices to parties via email informing them of the hearing of their appeals.
“It is hoped that in this legal year, substantial strides will have been taken to actualize its use by the Court and I call on the Nigerian Bar to support this process for a resounding success,” he said.
Also emphasizing the achievements his administration recorded in the area of institutional integrity, Justice Mahmud conceded that “in the area of Judicial Appointments, there has been measured criticism of the process of appointment of Judges.
“Indeed the greatest criticism was on the lack of merit that enveloped the process of appointment or elevation to the Superior Courts of Record.
“International best practices and principles mandate that judicial appointments be made on the basis of clearly defined criteria and by a publicly declared process.
“These criteria should seek to ensure equality of opportunity for all who are eligible for judicial office and appointment on merit while ensuring that there is no discrimination in the process and there is appropriate consideration of all criteria.
“The need for a change in the criteria for the appointment of Judicial Officers in Nigeria prompted the National Judicial Council to enact the Revised NJC Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers of all Superior Courts of Record in Nigeria 2014.
” It was clear that the old Guidelines had become unsuitable for the 21st Century as witnessed during the appointment of my Brother Justice, Hon. Justice Amiru Sanusi, JSC, among others, the new, more rigorous and transparent rules, permit only the best to be appointed to the Bench.
Indeed, the Rules, in keeping with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), affords any qualified legal practitioner with the requisite intellect and proven qualities required for appointment, the opportunity of making it to any Court in the land, even to the post of Head of Federal and States Superior Courts, including the Office of the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Prof Kalu (SAN) who agreed with the submissions of other respondents said one other area in which the administration of Justice Mahmud made history was the review of guidelines for the award of Senior Advocates of Nigeria. He said the last exercise appeared to be the best and that he was not sure if there was any complaint about the award.
Corroborating him, the CJN said“It is important to note that this year’s conferment exercise was unique in many respects.
“For the first time in the recent history of appointments, five candidates were allowed to appeal earlier disqualifications and were indeed successful in this regard.
“Two of these persons have been duly confirmed for conferment.
“I know that hitherto, potential aspirants to this privilege derived undue advantage from the appointments process by being given a choice of forms to fill prior to interview thus opening the way for great abuse of the system as well as foreknowledge of their potential interview panel.
“This is no longer the case as the form this year was of a single colour thus preventing such foreknowledge.
“Furthermore, there was a real ballot conducted and all candidates can attest to the fairness of this ballot system.
“Indeed, following the visitation to the various chambers and having examined the various capacities of all aspirants, I am proud to say that only the best-equipped candidates, both intellectually and materially, were shortlisted.
“Similarly, primitive considerations of geographical backgrounds or “zoning” were subordinate to the higher ideal of merit, in selecting those men and women who have been deemed worthy of conferment.
“In this, I must commend the members of the Committee for their diligence, time and the considerable resources, which they expended in concluding this process with a sense of duty, fairness, equity, and good conscience. .
In the past, candidates who fell short of the mark in the selections process were required to send in their appeals in writing.
“This often created the added anxiety as to whether such appeals would receive a fair hearing or be understood in their proper context.
“That is why henceforth, all candidates who send in appeals in writing, shall also be given the opportunity to support their written presentations with oral submissions to the Appeal Panel, where they may defend their appeals to the best of their ability, “ he adde
Justice Mahmud also fingered bar-bench relationship as one of his major achievements which virtually all stakeholders agreed to.
According to the CJN, he gave his reason for strengthening the bond between the two thus: “in seeking to uphold the rule of law, judicial reform and the end to corruption, while improving the access to and delivery of justice, I believe that a partnership with an independent, effective and competent legal profession is a basic requirement.
“Indeed the Nigerian Bar Association recently rose up as a powerful, albeit inadvertent, ally in ensuring the provision of fiscal autonomy that is necessary for us to have a truly independent Judiciary.
“The Bar was similarly active in its advocacy and voter education, which helped the smooth conduct of the last elections and the successful transition within our democracy.
“That is why upon my assumption of office I worked to facilitate Bar/Bench relations and promote greater Bar/Bench interface and collaborations as evidenced by my attendance at several conferences and events organised at the instance of the Bar.
“Indeed the last Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015, reputed to have been the best ever organised, was largely the product of extensive collaborations between the Bar and Bench from the planning to the implementation stage. Indeed the Judiciary played host to a number of events as well as my Brother, the Chief Justice of Kenya who enriched us greatly with his presence.
Upgrade of Supreme Court infrastructure
A former Attorney General of Abia State, Prof Awa Kalu (SAN) said nobody could deny the administration of Justice Mahmud the credit of maintaining the court in a way never before.
To use his language, Awa Kalu said “the Supreme Court has been physically touched up especially the entrance, some of the inner recesses of the court.
“The security has been beefed up as you approach the Supreme Court and even when you want to gain entrance into the Court’s complex which has not been so before.
“Although I know that it is the chief registrar that handles such, but it has to be with his concurrence.
“Yes, aesthetically, he has left his imprints on the Supreme Court. So, within the confines of this interview, I think two years as chief justice of Nigeria with such achievements, is commendable,” he said.
Giving details as an insider, the Director of Administration, Mr Sheu Usman Mohammed corroborated Prof Kalu’s observation.
He however said that except one was taken round the Supreme Court, one would not be able to appreciate the enormity of transformation that the administration of Justice Mahmud ably assisted by his Chief Registrar had brought on the Supreme Court facilities.
” I can mention all that the Chief Registrar had done in the last two years to transform this court one after the other without missing any.
“But it will look like a fiction if I do not take you round to see. Don’t forget that to enter Supreme Court now as a visitor, you must be cleared by the security and you must indicate a particular place you are going to enable them give you an appropriate tag that will take you there.
“If along the line you changed your mind to head towards another place in the Supreme Court, you will be bounced back by the security. That was why I said that except you are taken round, you might not have the opportunity of seeing what I will show you now.
“If you look at the main entrance to the Supreme Court premises, you will discover that the security has been beefed up with increased personnel and gadgets including scanners and CCTV camera. They were not there before.
“Now, as you enter the premises of the court, you are welcomed by beautiful flowers. The landscaping is unprecedented. It is all over as you can see.
“Do you know the Supreme Court was once partly surrounded by thick forest? That has become history now. Do you know, as well, that for many years, we did not know the boundary of the Supreme Court because of the thick forest surrounding it?That too has become history now. This administration has cleared everywhere.
“Then, as you are about entering the Supreme Court complex, you are faced with an electronic door which takes you face to face with our security men who must screen you before you are allowed into the complex. That entry point is for only visitors. The staff of the Supreme Court use another entry point where they themselves would be screened.
Visitors’ entry point to the Supreme Court Complex
Face to face with the electronic door
The electronic door flings open automatically as it senses human beings as you can see
The electronic door opens automatically to hand you over to security men for screening
“Now, as soon as you are cleared by the security, you are directed as a visitor and monitored to the Court Users Information Office where you will be asked questions about your mission.
“If you are cleared, your visit is documented and you are given a tag that will take you only to where your mission would be accomplished. If you try go elsewhere, you will be bounced back. The security guys are at every point. The Court Users Office was created in February 2016. The Supreme Court has changed.
Court Users’ Office
“This is one of the innovations by the administration of the outgoing Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Mahmud Mohammed ably assisted by his Chief Registrar, Barrister Ahmed Saleh. To improve the security system in the court, the administration created the court users information office. When you get to the security post at the entrance, you will undergo security clearance where you will be directed to the Court Users Information Office. This is where you will explain your mission and they will direct you accordingly.
“But if you are going into the court room, you do not need any tag so far you have been cleared by the security officials at the main entrance. And before you enter the foyer leading you to the courtroom is an electronic cause list monitor which displays causes that would be heard by the court for the day.
“Also is a big marble board by the wall showing the names of present and past justices of the court. It was not there before.
“The next office we are visiting is one that is very key to the Supreme Court. It is called Process Registry.
“This office used to be a very dirty open space. It was so because this is where they used to keep all briefs and files of cases, all lumped together.
“Where there is an issue and you need a document from any of the files, it is a big issue locating them.
“In the past, cases were adjourned by our court owing to inability to locate vital documents.
“Sometimes, files might even get missing. They may have to call counsel from both parties to give the court duplicates. It was that bad.
“This administration thought it wise that the litigation registry should be digitised, ” Mr Mohammed said.
According to the Process Registrar who supervises the Office, Mr Ibrahim Dahiru Dayako, he said “as you can see, things have changed in this unit.
Process Registrar, Ibrahim explaining how his unit was upgraded
“Before this administration came, we were bombarded with a lot of documents. They are scattered everywhere in the process of fetching documents from the files.
“This administration digitalised this department in order to reduce workload. That is why you met me here relaxed,” he said.
The Director of Administration, Mr Mohammed said another area which the administration of Justice Mahmud touched was a place called Supreme Court Library which he said was grossly under-utilized.
He said the Chief Registrar of the court, Saleh converted part of the space to do what is now known as Supreme Court Mediation Centre.
Supreme Court Mediation Centre
Supreme Court Mediation Centre
“You need to know how this place used to be before it was constructed and put into this form. This is presently the Mediation Centre. The space it is occupying was partly in disuse before. This administration came up with this innovation. There are about four court rooms as you can see.
One of the ADR court rooms
“This is one of the court rooms. The courts can sit simultaneously. You must be proud to be associated with this kind of development.
“This place takes us to the Data Centre where this administration has done so much. Recall we had earlier visited this Centre.
Another area that the administration of Justice Mohammed touched, according to the Director of Administration, is the staff canteen.
“Before now, the Supreme Court, as big as it is, did not have a befitting staff canteen. But now, we have befitting canteens.
Senior Staff Canteen
A section in the Senior Staff Canteen
“The space occupied by this senior staff canteen was impassable before. It was full of records from the Accounts. All the abandoned vouchers were here. The Chief Registrar now decided that we should have a befitting canteen here. This place is now for senior staff and our August visitors.
“Next is another canteen for junior staff
“This is the Junior Staff Canteen. It is being operated by Oven Fresh Kitchen.
“We provided all the facilities for them.
THE SUPREME COURT KITCHEN
“This is the kitchen provided by this administration for the food vendors . Everything here was bought by the court to make it easy for the operators to use.
“Originally, it was meant to be a kitchen but it was abandoned. It was never used since inception.
“But when this administration came, the Chief Registrar set up a committee to put the kitchen in place. The chairs, oven, gas everything they are using here is provided by the court.
The next place we will visit is the retrofitted Supreme Court room.
The high tech Supreme Court of Nigeria
” I don’t need to say anything about this court any longer. Just visit Court 2 which was exactly like this to do your comparison and draw your conclusion.
Ceilings of the court rooms have started falling off
One of the Supreme Court rooms yet to be retrofitted
“This is the old court room. The ceilings of the court have started falling off. The other court we just inspected has been radically transformed. The old structure was made of wood. it had been there since 1993. Everything was completely removed.
“You have seen the old court with your two eyes. You will need to check the retrofitted court again to make your conclusion.
“This is where judges gather before they sit in open court. They also retire to the same place either to brainstorm or for tea break.
“Sometimes when the justice of the court need to deliver summary judgment and give reasons later, this is the place they hold conference to decide.
“This retiring room has everything they need particularly both traditional and virtual libraries. They can do research right here without going to their offices. All book are available in the virtual library.
The inner recess/ retiring room
“Before now, the justices were sharing toilet, both male and female in this room. The same thing applies in other court rooms. Unfortunately, the toilets were not functioning well.
“This administration came and felt it was not good enough. It created another toilet to make two in this retiring room. One for male and the other one for female justices. It will be replicated when other court rooms are renovated.
“It also created both manual and virtual library for them.
If you look very well, this stair case was not part of this building. it was created to access the open space upstairs.
“The open space has been turned to both traditional and virtual library for the justices..
“This stair case was just created. You can see that everything was customised
The library is meant only for justices. There is virtual library and there is the normal library.
“In the old court, the sitting arrangement is such that people would have to stand up for those going out. But in the new arrangement, there is no need for that. So you only inconvenience only one person at a time. There will be public address system fitted on the tables.
The old court room
“This is the old court room. The ceilings of the court have started falling off. The other court has been completely transformed. The old structure is wood. Everything was completely removed.
Old retiring room for justices of the Supreme Court
This is the way it used to be. When people are passing, they will be disturbing the justices. When judges are brainstorming here, people can actually be eavesdropping. There is no stair case here. The place that was connected to the retiring room with stair case in the retrofitted court was formerly a walkway. Passers by can actually disturb my lords here or eavesdrop.
PHOTO OF Justices’ Library
It is almost similar to what you have seen there. The shelf is virtual library. This was installed in 2014. before now, we were removing the ordinary wooden shelf. If you get to the main library, that one has been powered. The shelf is electronically operated.
Conference room for Wednesday’s sitting
“This is where Supreme Court justices sit on Wednesday for their chamber meeting. It has just been transformed.
“All of them will gather together and brainstorm on the cases they have heard or about to hear. Each judge has his or her own system. It was just an ordinary place before. All these systems are connected. You don’t need to be looking at the monitor hung on the wall.
“I was told the CR had visited so many courts in the world. He didn’t visit for fun. He brought to this country some of those innovations he saw there, I think. He is always saying this is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“He wanted to turn everywhere to a world class. If he has more time, he would have faced the remaining two courts,” Mr Mohammed said.
PHOTO OF A CLEANER CLEANING THE EXTERIOR TILES
Before the advent of this administration, the brown and white tile facade (exterior ) of the Supreme Court was very dirty. A large chunk of it used to be white but it had turned to a rainbow colour in 2014.
“Actually, since the court was built in 1993, no administration has renovated it. The initial idea was that the white tile should be removed and marble tiles put in place. But those invited were calling billions.
“He said he would not spend such money on renovation. What he now did was to look for companies that clean tiles.
“I never knew anybody could climb this tall wall without scaffold. You can see them. The firm washed the exterior tiles. That is why everywhere is wearing a new look now,” he said
PHOTO OF THE FOREST WHERE THE POLICE STATION WAS BUILT
“We didn’t know the boundary of this court before. All of these places were thickets, thick bush.
“But when he came in, he said he wanted to see everything.
“Nobody knew what was on his mind. He knew what he wanted to do. If you are with him, you don’t actually know where he is going. You will be wondering that why is he insisting on seeing everywhere.
New Supreme Court Police Station
“We used to have a police post within the complex which the DPO and his staff were using. But he built a standard office for them outside the complex as you can see. Where this police station was built was a thick forest. It is like a garden now. He had done landscaping everywhere.
Facility for support security staff
“Men of other security agencies working for the Supreme Court were also given this facility to freshen up. They have toilets and bathroom and can have a little nap at night or when they have closed.
“This place where the police station was built used to be the construction site
“Immediately after this place you can’t see anything again. But today, you can see the fence of the Supreme Court.
“This police station was built about five months ago. They recently moved into the office, ” the director of administration explained.
Police Admin Office
“We also have two other security outfits assisting the regular police. We provided a place for them to change their dresses with bathroom and toilet
“Next is the new Supreme Court Foyer. It is wearing a new look.
Entrance to the Foyer
“This place was also renovated to a world class. the floor was not looking like this. I don’t know where he got the people that did it.
“You will also observe that the whole Supreme Court environment is looking very beautiful. There is no place to take you to.. The work is everywhere you turn to, ” he added.