The Supreme Court yesterday struck out two suits by Lagos and Ekiti states challenging the validity and constitutionality of the Virtual Court Sittings procedure. A seven-man panel, presided over by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, struck out the suits after they were withdrawn by the plaintiffs.
The first suit marked: SC/CV/260/2020 filed by the Attorney General of Lagos State has the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly as the 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The Lagos State government, in the suit, prayed the Supreme Court to determine whether having regard to Section 36(1), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) use of technology by remote hearings of any kind, whether by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp, Skype or any other audio visual or videoconference platform by the Lagos State High Court or any other courts in Nigeria in aid of hearing and determination of cases, are constitutional.
When the matter came up yesterday, however, Lagos State Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), having taken hint from the apex court that the suit was speculative and pre-emptive withdrew the suit. Following its withdrawal, the apex, court in a unanimous decision, struck it out.
However, Justice Rhodes-Vivour, in his ruling, held that, “As of today virtual sitting is not unconstitutional. “This suit is speculative and having been withdrawn, it is struck out.”
The court also struck out a similar suit marked, SC/CV/261/2020 filed by the Attorney General of Ekiti State against the AGF, shortly after the suit was withdrawn.
Just like his Lagos counterpart, the Ekiti State AG, Wale Fapounda, withdrew his suit after taking the hint that the suit was preemptive.
On its part, Ekiti State had challenged the constitutionality of the directive of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), to the Heads of Courts at federal and state levels to adopt Virtual Court Sittings in courts