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Lagos judiciary announces N30,000 fee for virtual hearing

The Lagos State Judiciary has announced the payment of a N30,000 fee per session for all remote or virtual court proceedings across the state as of April 1.

This is contained in a circular by the Acting Chief Registrar of the State, Mr. Tajudeen Elias, dated March 28, obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

The circular said all applications for virtual hearings must be made to the court hearing the matter.
It added that payment shall be made upon approval from the court.

The circular said that the Assistant Chief Registrar of Litigation in Ikeja or Lagos would schedule the case for hearing upon receipt of payment.

“No other office or officer is authorised to conduct or schedule cases for virtual proceedings in the High and Magistrate Courts of Lagos State.

“The First Hightower Infotech Ltd. (FHTI) will continue to provide internet access and service for the courts where they currently offer such services.

“Court registrars are directed to ensure strict compliance with the circular,” it said.

Commenting on the development, Mr. Musbau Famuyiwa, the Managing Director of Global T & T New Solutions Ltd., told NAN that the virtual hearing became popular in Nigeria during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NAN reports that Global T&T partnered with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice on virtual court proceedings.

Famuyiwa said the virtual hearing was a means to ensure the continuity of court operations while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

He said that the virtual hearing had been free from inception, and its usage started since the beginning of COVID-19 to attend to pressing cases.

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He said that the payment of the fee would make the virtual hearing more effective by scaling it up to achieve justice.

He said, “In terms of scaling it up, the judiciary does not have the capacity for infrastructural development, which is why Global T&T is involved to help achieve the goal.

“If the judiciary finds the third party to fill in that gap to provide this service, it will go a long way.

“Imagine someone coming from Port-Harcourt to attend a matter in Lagos. You know how expensive that is, but if such a person can join virtually, it will dramatically reduce the cost.

“Also, imagine a witness flying down from outside the country to give evidence when he can easily pay the sum of N30,000 to avoid flight tickets and other expenses.”

He reiterated that the court was not forcing anyone to pay for the fee or make use of a virtual hearing.

“People are already tapping into this service, but the court is not forcing anyone to use the virtual hearing.
“The virtual hearing has also been extended to all magistrate courts in the state.

“The service charge of N30,000 is going to our company’s purse,” he said. (NAN)

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