In furtherance of the vision of the Chief of Army Staff to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles, the Nigerian Army School of Legal Services (NASLS), Zaria conducted a training workshop from 9 to 12 August 2020. The theme of the training workshop was “Admissibility of Electronic Evidence under the Evidence Act 2011”. The aim of the workshop was to acquaint NA Lawyers, Prosecutors and Investigators with the complexities of Electronic Evidence and its admissibility under the Evidence Act 2011 for optimal service delivery.
The Resource Persons and discussants were drawn from Ministry of Defence, the Bar and the Bench, the Academia, Investigation and Prosecution Agencies as well as the Military. Participants were drawn from NA formations and units, Defence Headquarters, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Police, Department of States Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp and Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The Special Guest of Honour at the occasion was the Chief Judge of Kaduna State Honourable Justice Muhammed Lawal Bello. The workshop was declared opened by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the NA, Major General US Mohammed. Other dignitaries who graced the opening ceremony were the Commandant, Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peace Keeping Centre, Major General JA Ataguba; Commandant, NA School of Infantry Major General KO Aligbe, Commandant, Depot NA Major General KI Mukhtar, Director, Directorate of Army Physical Training Major General OW Ali; Commandant, Warrant Officers Academy Brigadier General S Kawugana, Commandant, NA School of Physical Training Brigadier General AOI Sangokoya; Commandant NA school of Military Police Brigadier General ME John-Okon and Commandant Nigerian Military School Zaria Brigadier General BH Mohammed.
In a welcome address at the occasion, the Commandant of the NA School of Legal Services Brigadier General SI Musa noted the novelty of digital evidence and the associated complexity of admissibility under the Evidence Act 2011, the understanding of which he described as “a work in progress”. He stated that the aim of the training workshop therefore is to train officers in this knotty aspect of the Law of evidence.
While the GOC 1 Division NA, Major General US Mohammed, in his remarks, – commended the initiative of the Commandant of the NASLS for organizing the workshop. He further said that the participants in the Seminar would utilize the knowledge gained in furtherance of the COAS vision which is – “To have a professionally responsive NA in the discharge of its Constitutional roles.
The keynote address was delivered by the Special Guest of Honour Honorable Justice, Mohammed Lawal Bello Justice of Kaduna State. The keynote address set the stage for succeeding lectures and discussions.
Thereafter, the first lecture titled – “Issues and Challenges on Admissibility of Electronic Evidence in Nigerian Courts” was delivered by Tajudeen Oladoja (Life Bencher).
The Second Lecture is titled – “Is the Concept of Primary and Secondary Evidence relevant to the Admissibility of Electronic Documents” was delivered by Dr Sani Abdullahi of the Faculty of Law Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). The Lecture was followed by a discussion by Prof AI Bappah also of the Faculty of Law ABU and Husaini Abdu Esquire, Chairman Zaria Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.
On the final day, a Lecture titled – “An Appraisal of the requirements of Certificate of Authentication in the Admissibility of Electronic Evidence” was delivered by the Director of Legal Services, Ministry of Defence, Mr Bola Odugbesan Esquire. The lecture was further discussed by Brigadier General MU Wambai, Director Legal Services (Army) and Group Captain Musa Sanda-Jika, Director Legal Services (Air Force).
While the concluding lecture of the workshop titled “An Appraisal of the Admissibility of Evidence relating to Electronic Devices (Emails, Short Messages services, Digital recordings and videos) Internet Printouts and Social Media Posts” was delivered by Senior Prosecutor of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Mr Johnson Ojogbane (JP) Esquire. A further discussion on the lecture by Major General YI Shalangwa Director of Legal Services Defence Headquarters and the representative of the Director Legal Services Nigerian Navy Lieutenant Commander MM Magami further elicited serious professional interest on the subject /lecture.
There is no doubt, the workshop will further equip participants with the requisite knowledge to effectively navigate the complexities associated with admissibility of digital evidence.
The Commandant of the NASLS, stated that in order to maximize the benefits of the workshop, all the papers presented and the attendants comments by discussants will be compiled and circulated within and outside the military.