Who can benefit from this study?
Civic Tech initiatives
Organisation responsible for case study:
Org. type: Non-Profit
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Using technology in accelerating justice delivery within the legal framework of Nigeria
Post Status: Not applicable
Main Project Location: Lagos
Project country/countries: Nigeria
Project dates: –
Last updated: 23 Mar 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
Citizens’ Gavel is a civic tech organization aimed at improving the pace of justice delivery through the use of technology. It was founded in response to legal problems in Nigeria. It was established as Open Justice by Nelson Olanipekun, from an incubation program of Civic Hive; the incubation and media arm of BudgIT.
The objectives of Citizens’ Gavel is to use technology in accelerating justice delivery within the legal framework of Nigeria. This they do by linking those who cannot afford legal counsel to pro bono lawyers. Also, they aim at using technology to digitise the activities of the court for public use to make a transparent judicial system in Nigeria.
Another objective of the organization is advocating for the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law.
This open data initiative acts as an intel for proper coordination and preparation for judicial trial as well analysis of court cases. As a civic tech tool, Gavel promotes accountability, transparency, efficiency and faster justice delivery system.
The challenge or problem
Lots of injustice and delays in delivering justice. The Nigerian government confirmed that nearly 70 percent of inmates in prisons were awaiting trial.
There is a lot of obscurity that occurs in Nigerian courts, and there is no transparency in the way the cases are being handled
The solution that was implemented
Gavel set up 2 arms to create diversification in their approach. These arms are JusticeLab and Podus. JusticeLab is focused on addressing systemic issues by responding to issues around weakness in the judicial system of Nigeria especially in areas it affects citizens. Podus, on the other hand, is focused on linking citizens who have suffered or are suffering from security agency brutality to lawyers. Podus is available on Google Play Store and it works like Uber such that victims can log into the app, enter in their issue/case and a lawyer within their vicinity can be alerted to assist them.
The philosophy at Gavel is to create a nest to harbour and build active citizens, taking them through curricula with the capability to initiate, articulate and maintain conversations on demanding effective governance.
Gavel was born out of the need to ensure transparency and accountability in the Nigerian justice sector, to tackle police brutality and consequential delay resulting in prison congestion, with unimaginable numbers of inmates awaiting trial
By digitizing the case list, lawyers, advocates, family members, and others, can easily access crucial information, while an infographics section on the website helps draw attention to issues facing the criminal justice system in Nigeria
What results were achieved?
Justice Clock Tool
Gavel is helping prisons to know the list of suspects to bring to court and is working with Ministry of Justice to cross check the number of ongoing trials through the tool - Justice Clock.
Lessons and recommendations
There is a need to fuse activism and advocacy, to find common ground amidst the populace and build political will that is sufficient to hold Nigerian leaders accountable
Create a network of support group. Gavel has a network of lawyers across 27 Nigerian States
Digital technologies are key for wider and greater impact of the work of NGOs
Visibility is important for scaling of civic tech initiatives
It is important to understand the position and circumstances of the citizens
Need to create organisational structures such that people develop trust
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