Justice Ishaq Bello of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Photo: NAN

By Edith Nwapi/Abuja

The FCT Abuja courts on Wednesday launched a digital speech recording machine and video transcription system for quick and efficient court proceedings.

Justice Ishaq Bello, FCT Chief Judge said at the launch:”it is glaring that technology is now and the future.

“Anyone who disregards technology will be left behind to his own peril.It is on this note, that the court which is the epicentre of legal conversation is equally striving to meet the demands of time.

” This is by leveraging on available technology to make work easier and justice more accessible in a healthy and friendly atmosphere.

” It has been the tradition of judges to write in long hand. This makes proceedings slow and sloppy not to talk of the health challenges it poses over time”.

Bello said that like other institution, courts are made up of people whose duties are to see to the expeditious and fair determination of disputes in a manner that inspires confidence.

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The chief judge added that it would not be out of place to ensure responsible deployment of technology in facilitating the of the court’s core mandate.

” It is against this backdrop that we have commenced the digitisation of this court.

” It is packed with massive potentials to fundamentally change the way things are done in our court rooms today.

” In simple terms, this is a technology that records the audio content of court proceedings and then converts into typed words ” he said.

He added that what it means was that a judge can watch, replay court proceedings at anytime, fast- forward, and even areas the demeanour of witnesses from his comfort zone.

” It will not only save the time and energy consumed by judges while writing and taking notes in longhand during trials.

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” It will also speed up proceedings by the freed time being put into more valuable uses.

” It will be impossible to miss words and important details as it is sometimes the case while taking notes by hand” he said.

He stated that this was the first step of digitisation of the high court, the next step would be online filing of cases and visual hearing platforms.

Explaining the application, Ms Joycelyn Adah, project consultant said:

“This Application will be able to accurately record and convert speech made in the Court room to text, it will also automatically generate a text document once Speech commences.

” It will store the original record and transcribe the speech into equivalent text with up to 70 per cent accuracy.

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” It also has a video component that comes in handy in this era of migration to virtual Court rooms.

According to Adah, the software is an open source, subject to improvement by rigorous research if given the opportunity to develop.

In practice, she said, it automatically records oral and, if enabled visual, Court proceedings and transcribes to readable text statements of parties.

She added that when used in a virtual Court setting, it enables the Court and parties to be in contact both visually and orally.