The Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba, launched a Bail Information Management System (BIMS) on Tuesday at the Ikeja High Court.
Alogba said the system would help to address congestion at correctional centres by resolving delays associated with tracking and verifying defendants and sureties.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports the programme was sponsored by the British Council’s Rule of Law and Anti-corruption (RolaC) programme and funded by the EU.
Justice Alogba said the system would also ease bail administration by automating otherwise manual processes for documenting and processing bails.
He noted that the system would be useful at the Magistrates and High Courts and would be used for other purposes outside litigation.
“This recording system will also enable us to easily exercise our discretion in taking decisions on bail applications.
“You will easily know if this person is a regular bail customer or has jumped bail previously; you’d know what to do,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo noted that unduly long pre- conviction detention was costly both for defendants and for the state.
Onigbanjo, represented by Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi, Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, pointed out that crimes could be prosecuted when defendants were not produced in court.
He said that in spite of provisions of the law made to protect the liberty of defendants and to secure their sureties, the bail system had been plagued by challenges of regulation.
The commissioner said the BIMS would be a game changer in the administration of criminal justice in Lagos State as it was the first of its kind in Nigeria and in West Africa.
The Coordinator of RolaC in Lagos State, Mrs Ajibola Ijimakinwa said it sponsored the programme to enhance good governance by strengthening the rule of law, curbing corruption and to increase access to justice.
In his remarks, consultant on the project, Mr Musbau Famuyiwa, said about 60 court registrars has been trained to use the system, stressing that BIMS was primarily for magistrates courts.
Famuyiwa said seven magistrates courts were currently on the pilot scheme, while more than 100 sureties had already been profiled.