The premier arbitration institution in Nigeria, Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators will celebrate its 40th year anniversary/ Conference between Thursday 14th November and Friday 15th November, 2019 at the prestigious Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island Lagos.
Founded about 40 years ago by Prince Bola Ajibola, former Judge of the World Court at Hague and former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the institute has trained many Nigerians in the art of peaceful resolution of crisis through arbitration.
Speaking at a press conference to herald the anniversary in Lagos, Friday, the Registrar/ Chief Executive Officer of the institute, Shola Oshodi – John urges Nigerians to embrace arbitration as a means of resolving disputes and as a final arbiter when dispute do arise.
She said the anniversary’s conference will be talking on building a culture of arbitration not only in Nigeria but the entire West African countries.
” What we are trying to do is to make sure that we have the legal framework to handle matters like that of P&IB starting from pre -contract stages to the conclusion and if a dispute does arise, there is a way to resolving those disputes not at the detriment of Nigeria but ensuring that the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians are protected.
“So the key factor for this annual conference is working towards coming up with a National Arbitration Policy that will cover and state in clear terms how the practice of arbitration should be done in Nigeria and what are the parameters that we arbitrators as Nigerians need to look out for.
“We cannot be signing multi billion dollars contract and end up having such agreement and contract shift out of Nigeria when it is time to resolve the dispute.
” We have seven sections but I just want us to just pick just one or two that are key for us and also for Nigerians because of the content and what we intend to do to explore and the areas we need to look into. A lot of us know about the Africa free trade zone agreement, continental free trade agreement that Nigeria has signed, though we have not domesticated it yet. We want to ask ourselves, are we really ready for it. Do we have the right mechanism in place to drive it or are we going to be spectators or try to board the train when the train has already left the station.
“Those are the things we are going to be looking at and we also need to look at changing the face of arbitration in Nigeria in terms of ensuring that for us that are lawyers we should know that part of our code of ethics is that before you take a case of client and approach the court, you should try alternatives . The first step is to apply alternative solution to ensure that the party can resolve the disputes amicably outside the court system before you approach the court. So we are looking at peaceful resolution. How do we situate arbitration in dispute resolution in Nigeria” , Oshodi John said.
“We need to agree on how we want to resolve our dispute in Nigeria, how we want to protect the interest of Nigeria and what can we do to ensure that at the national level we have the framework that drives alternative peaceful resolution in Nigeria”, she further said.
She said as part of the 40th anniversary, a building launch will hold on the 14th and 15th November, 2019.
Also speaking, the Deputy Registrar of the Institute, Chinyere Onuorah urges Nigerians to embrace arbitration in resolving conflict saying one doesn’t need to be a lawyer to be an arbitrator.
“You don’t need to be a lawyer to be an arbitrator. Graduates in all the fields can be involved in arbitration , Once you are able to deal with matters before you, definitely you can be an arbitrator. Just one third of our members are lawyers, People from other fields like Engineering, mass communication together we have trained over 900 people this year and we will be inducting them in segments”, Onuorah said.
She said over 500 members will be inducted into various cadres of the institute on November 15, 2019.