OOU don makes case for use of artificial intelligence in Nigeria's justice system - NIGERIAN NEWSORBIT


Thursday, December 15, 2022

OOU don makes case for use of artificial intelligence in Nigeria's justice system

A Professor of Law at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Charles Adekoya, has advocated the introduction and adoption of artificial intelligence in Nigeria's justice system to put an end to prolonged delays in justice delivery in the nation's courts.

Adekoya, who is also the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) of the institution, made the call on Tuesday while delivering the 103rd OOU Inaugural Lecture at the Otunba Gbenga Daniel Lecture Theatre, Main Campus, Ago-Iwoye. 

The lecture entitled, "Betrayal of the Poor in Accessing Justice in Nigeria: The Judas in our Midst," was chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ayodeji Agboola, with several eminent personalities in attendance. 

The don expressed concern over what he described as the humongous challenges in accessing justice in Nigeria, especially by the poor. 

He warned that if the impediments to justice were not removed by relevant stakeholders, the country could experience another mass protest like the EndSARS staged by disadvantaged members of the society. 

While recommending artificial intelligence-driven justice system in Nigeria, Prof. Adekoya said the system had gained prominence in legal circles in several foreign countries and its adoption by Nigeria would greatly assist in speedy dispensation of justice in the country. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems, and is now being deployed in judicial systems worldwide. 

He said, "In Nigeria, most of our judicial officers, apart from writing in long hands, which takes time, have to sieve through the high volumes of court processes filed by the parties, substantive and procedural laws in order to write their judgments. This process not only takes time and contributed to delays but equally takes its toll on the health of our judicial officers.

"The use of artificial intelligence could greatly assist in the speedy dispensation of justice in Nigeria. If we create databases for our judgments and utilise artificial intelligence, the decisions of our courts could be ready in about a week. It also acts as a great relief to our judicial officers."

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor stressed the need for the Nigerian judiciary to uptake artificial intelligence and leverage it in the judicial processes in order to prepare for the modern AI-driven speedy justice system. 

He added, "In Argentina, for instance, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to assist district attorneys in writing decisions in complex cases, which the presiding judges can either approve, reject or rewrite. This is achieved by the AI programme using the district attorney's digital library of 2,000 rulings from 2016 to 2017 and with matching cases to the most relevant decisions in the database. 

"This enables it to predict how the court will decide the matter. One may question the reliability and accuracy of such AI predictions but it does not present serious issues since judicial officers are expected to superintend or exercise human oversight on its recommendation."

As a way of expanding people-centred justice system in Nigeria, the professor also suggested the use of legal chatbots which are artificial intelligence software applications that are used to interact with people online through automated conversations. 

He explained that chatbots could relate to users like human beings by helping them to access legal information and documents as well as offer free legal advice or resolve a myriad of day-to-day legal issues on a 24-hour basis without the need to interact with, pay a visit or speak to a lawyer. 

"Chatbots will definitely shape legal services and the legal profession in the near future and equally facilitate access to justice. It is recommended that this be embraced in Nigeria with the caveat that this should be used in compliance with the international best practices on AI systems relating to ethical issues and data protection," Adekoya submitted. 

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