Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has formally inaugurated a technology-driven Family Court at the High Court Complex in Port Harcourt.

The occasion also witnessed the unveiling of the “Family Court Rules, the Guide,” and a book titled “The Child, Ethics and the Law: A Simplified Law Guide for Children and Young Persons,” written by the wife of the Governor and Presiding Judge of the Family Court, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike.

Wike stated that now that Rivers State has joined the league of states with Family Court, he would fully support the court, even if its establishment is coming about 13 years after the State House of Assembly domesticated the Child’s Rights Act in 2009. The law makes provisions for establishment of the Family Court.

In her speech, Justice Nyesom-Wike explained that the essence of child-friendly justice is reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration. She stated that under the Family Court system, “the court is obliged to listen to children, consider their views and ensure their participation and protection in the process, whether as victims, witnesses or offenders.”

Justice Nyesom-Wike stated that the Family Court functions in Port Harcourt in four jurisdictions with two High Court judges and two Magistrates. According to the judge, the Family Court is expected, as the need arises and resources permit, to spread to all the local government areas of the state to ease access to justice.

In his address, the Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi stated that the Rivers State Judiciary has equipped the Family Court to a befitting status. He observed that the State judiciary is set to commence effective Family Court proceedings at the High Court and Magistrate Court levels to tackle designated cases.

On his part, the Attorney General of Rivers State and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor SAN lauded the establishment of the Family Court, adding that it is another feat in the administration of justice in Rivers State.

On the special technology that drives the court’s proceedings, Mr. Emeka Albert, the CEO of LexTech Ecosystems Limited, stated that the Family Court has an innovative e-filing system that is easy to use by lawyers and non-lawyers.

He listed its features to include e-filing for remote filing of cases, e-payment for online payment for filings, and e-assignment of cases by the designated judicial officer. Others are e-notifications, virtual hearing, and verbatim reporting among others.

Albert, the senior lawyer who developed the Family Court Case Management platform, unveiled the court’s web address as www.familycourt.rv.gov.ng.

Addressing journalists after the event, Albert identified the Rivers State Family Court as the first in Nigeria to use end-to-end automation to manage its procedings. He noted that the training of the court staff and stakeholders has commenced, adding that the plan is for the court to commence from day one in a paperless environment.

The leading technology expert and consultant stated that the Family Court is a major investment in child justice administration and urged other States to emulate the Rivers State example.

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