The Supreme Court has finally settled the controversies on whether virtual court sitting is constitutional.
Many judges had expressed fears over the legality of virtual court sittings which many federal and state courts had adopted following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, on Tuesday held that virtual court sittings were presumed to be valid and had not been declared unconstitutional by the apex court.
The judges made the clarification when they heard separate suits filed by the Attorneys-General of Lagos and Ekiti states following the adoption of remote hearings by judges in their states.
The apex court, dismissing the fears being entertained by many judges on the constitutionality of remote hearings in the country, insisted that the chief judges of the states that had issued practice directives to provide for virtual sitting when convenient had the duty to enforce the directive.
On suits filed by Lagos and Ekiti states’ AGs, the apex court said the suits were speculative because they failed to disclose how virtual proceedings had injured the interest or right of anyone.
Consequently, the two states’ AGs, Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), Lagos; and Olawale Fapohunda, Ekiti withdrew their suits after it was described as academic and speculative by the panel.
Dismissing the suit, Justice Rhodes-Vivour said that “as of today, virtual sitting is not unconstitutional”.
In its suit, Lagos AG had challenged the power of the National Assembly to try to amend section 274 of the Constitution to include virtual proceedings in the Constitution.
Ekiti AG in his suit, prayed the apex court for an affirmative decision on the virtual court sittings in order to remove the speculations and uncertainties being expressed over it by some judges.