A Judge of the High Court of Kogi State, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, has called on Heads of Courts in Nigeria to amend the rules of their courts to give room for the inclusion of electronic discovery (e-discovery).
Omolaye-Ajileye made the call in a paper delivered at a specialized training for prosecutors of environmental offences jointly organized by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
In his paper captioned: “Digital Evidence and E-Discovery in Prosecuting Environmental Cases”, Justice Omolaye-Ajileye stressed the importance of electronic discovery in litigations involving electronically-stored information (ESI) in this current age in facilitating effective administration of justice.
He noted that “In this digital age characterized by the proliferation of digital devices which have facilitated the creation, storage, and communication of electronic information of all kinds, electronic discovery has become an essential and inevitable fabric of the litigation processes around the world.”
According to the jurist, the emerging dominance of the information technology landscape will make the discovery of electronically-stored information (ESI) an increasingly-important tool to attain the truth in cases in our courts.
He added that with e-discovery, litigants can retrieve information from a wide range of electronic sources, including, but not limited, to social media accounts, messages, emails, documents or any other valuable data.
He lamented that only the National Industrial Court has provisions guiding e-discovery in the court’s civil procedure rules while what other courts have are provisions for the inspection and discovery of hardcopy documents, which he said falls short of the requirements of e-discovery.
Justice Omolaye-Ajileye considered this a great gap that demands urgent attention because, according to him, the “primary duty of the judex, through its rules, is to provide an enabling environment that will facilitate and enhance the attainment of justice.”
Speaking on the forthcoming general election, he added that the call for the incorporation of e-discovery in court rules has become more relevant and inevitable as we approach an election where, hopefully, the enabling law would provide for electronic storage and transmission of election results from polling units to collation centres.
He explained that just in the same way the extant rules of election petition tribunals provide for the inspection of election materials such as ballot papers and result sheets of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), attention will surely be focused on how to access and retrieve electronically stored results transmitted by INEC to establish or test the veracity or otherwise of the results that may be announced, a process which litigants are entitled to access.
He, therefore, called on the appropriate authorities such as INEC, Federal High Court, and the Court of Appeal to begin to give careful and serious thought to issues of e-discovery as they may dominate electoral litigations in the forthcoming election.
Appeal Court Sacks Nasarawa speaker
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has sacked the Speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Ibrahim Balarabe Abdullahi, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a judgement delivered on Tuesday, the court declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Hon. Sa’ad Abdullahi Ibrahim (Turakin-Opanda), as the rightful winner of the election for Umaisha/Ugya State Constituency.
Appeal Court affirms Hyacinth Alia’s victory as Benue Governor
The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, on Monday, upheld the election of Hyacinth Alia as declared by INEC after the March 18th, 2023 election as governor of Benue State
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 18 governorship election, Titus Uba, had approached the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the tribunal that upheld Alia’s election.
At the tribunal, Uba accused Alia’s deputy, Samuel Ode, of presenting a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) contrary to Section 182(1)(j) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)
He also alleged that Alia’s name was submitted less than 180 days before the election date, and Ode was also not submitted to INEC after the party conducted a further re-run primary election.
A three-member panel of the tribunal, headed by Justice Ibrahim Karaye, dismissed the petition on the ground that it was a pre-election matter and was statute-barred.
Ruling on the appeal on Monday, the appeal court’s three-member panel led by Justice Onyekachi Aja Otisi held that Uba failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of forgery against Ode
As long as God remains on the throne our mandate will be preserved, says Mutfwang
Plateau Governor, Caled Mutfwang spoken with confidence that as long as God remains on the throne, the people’s mandate will be preserved and protected as he reiterated his commitment to the rule of law, while assuring the people that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Mutfwang who was reacting to the Appeal Court judgement that sacked him on Sunday described the verdict as a temporary setback that will not deter him from repositioning the state.
“We have unwavering faith in the judiciary and the Constitution of Nigeria,” he added.
The Governor said he has instructed his legal team to file an appeal at the Supreme Court, admonishing citizens of the state and PDP supporters to remain calm.
Mutfwang gave the indication in a press statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Gyang Bere, expressed optimism that the mandate overwhelmingly given to him by the citizens would be restored.
Mutfwang polled 525,299 votes in the March 18 governorship election in the state, while Goshwe polled 481,370 votes.
Goshwe challenged the victory of Mutfwang at the tribunal, claiming that the Governor was not validly nominated and sponsored by his Party, insisting there was non-compliance with the Electoral Act in the election.
In a unanimous decision, a three-member panel of the tribunal headed by Justice R. Irele-Ifijeh dismissed the petition for lacking in merit.
Displeased with the judgment, the APC candidate appealed the tribunal judgment.
The appellate court ruling on Sunday, led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, held that the PDP did not validly sponsor the Governor during the election.
She held that the Party violated a court order to conduct a valid Congress in that state’s 17 Local Government Areas.
She said there was no evidence that the PDP complied with a subsisting High Court order which had directed it to conduct a valid party congress before sponsoring the governorship and other candidates.
The court held that the issue of qualification is both a pre-election and a post-election matter contrary to the tribunal’s findings, which held that the appellant lacked the locus to contest the validity of the respondent.
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