Analogue judges: Supreme Court website not working, one year after collapse

Supreme court

The Supreme Court has been without a functional website for over a year, The PUNCH reports.

The handlers of the website which used to be a channel for quick access to crucial information about the highest court of the land, had not been updating it for about the last three months of 2018, until it slipped into a total collapse in early 2019.

Under the administration of the immediate-past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.), the website wore a new look and was being regularly updated till late 2018.

At its peak, the website was providing access to the court’s weekly cause lists which lawyers, litigants and other interested members of the public could easily access from the comfort of their bedroom to know the appeals scheduled for hearing or judgment for the week.

During that time, the list of current justices of the court with their profiles could be easily accessible on the website.

The website, which used to give a glimpse of what the court was about, and some current developments about it to the external world, also had the court’s rules and procedures, as well as many statutes and links to relevant institutions uploaded on it.

Our correspondent also observed that there were efforts to provide access to the previous judgments of the apex court on the website, as obtainable in other parts of the world, including South Africa, where the judgments of the apex court from 1999 are uploaded on its website.

Some previous judgments of the Nigerian Supreme Court had been uploaded online before the website collapsed in 2019.

The umpteenth attempt by our correspondent to access the Supreme Court’s website through its only known address, <http://supremecourt.gov.ng/>, at about 4pm on Monday, threw up the usual notice, stating, “SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA website loading……… © Copyright 2019 supremecourt.gov.ng.  All rights reserved.”

Since the coming on board of the administration of the incumbent CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, in 2019, the Supreme Court which he leads has not had a functional website.

With the website remaining dysfunctional and for a Supreme Court with only passive presence on social media platforms, accessing basic information about the court can be tasking.

When contacted to respond to the state of the Supreme Court’s dysfunctional website, the court’s Director of Information, Dr Festus Akande, told The PUNCH that, “the court had some issues with the service provider and the issues are being sorted out.”

But the Nigerian Bar Association said the court’s website should be active such that its judgments should be uploaded on it as soon as they were delivered and information about the court be easily accessed anywhere in the world.

Responding to The PUNCH’s enquiry, the NBA, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kunle Edun, said the association was ready to partner the apex court “to ensure that the Supreme Court website being a platform for public use, should be functional at all times so that anyone anywhere in the world would be able to access information and judgments of the Supreme Court from the time it was created.

He added, “In fact, immediately a judgment is delivered it should be uploaded unto the website. All pending matters scheduled for hearing and their dates should also be there. This is the information age and we cannot be left behind.

“The NBA is ever ready to continue this positive partnership with the Supreme Court to ensure its website is robust, up to date and purposeful.” Punch

 

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