From Okwe Obi, Abuja

Citizens Gravel, a non-profit organization, has claimed that Nigeria has over 27.5 million legal problems, adding that one in eight persons have legal problems annually.

This was contained in an open letter addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, yesterday, head of the National Justice Summit slated for April 24 and 25.

Its Team Lead, Nelson Olanipekun, said land disputes accounted for 30% of the legal problems, suggesting that the establishment of specialized land courts with seasoned, retired judges could expedite the cases, especially at the High Court.

Olanipekun charged the AGF to use the summit to deliberate and map out solutions bedeviling the country’s legal system.

“Our data underscores the urgency of these reforms:- Nigeria faces over 27.5 million legal problems (one in eight persons have legal problems) annually.

“The average case in the High Court takes approximately 938 days to conclude.- Public perception indicates that 92% believe the judiciary is corrupt.- A staggering 70 percent of correctional facility populations are pre-trial detainees,” he said.

He recommended that legal luminaries should adopt integrated technology and Innovative practices, saying that the traditional methods of justice delivery were no longer viable in a rapidly evolving society like Nigeria.

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According to him, there should be a robust deployment of technology for digital case management systems, virtual court proceedings, and online dispute resolution which could reduce case backlog and improve case handling efficiency.

He reminded Fagbemi “that 50 percent of our population are youths who are essentially digitally literate. Using tech where applicable can address legal problems emerging from that demographic of our population.”

For him, the improvement of land ownership verification processes will also prevent conflicts and reduce court burdens.

Expansion of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): By leveraging existing frameworks for mediation and arbitration through regulatory bodies and public ombudsmen, we can significantly decongest courts and enhance the speed and efficiency of justice delivery.

“Strengthening, recognizing and publicizing other ADR institutions will also diversify dispute resolution methods available to the public. Also, leveraging digital technologies can make them available anywhere in the world.

“Incentivizing Excellence in Justice Delivery: A structured reward system to recognize and motivate staff working within the justice delivery value chain can revitalize the workforce.

“We can foster a culture of integrity and dedication within the justice sector by rewarding excellence and disciplining misconduct.

“Enhancing Transparency and Accountability: Implementing stringent measures for transparency and accountability will address the pervasive corruption issues,” he advised.