The Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArb) has called on President Mohammadu Buhari to sign into law the Arbitration Act already passed by the Senate.
Mrs Shola Oshodi-John, the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the institute made the remarks at a press briefing to kick-start the institute’s 2022 Annual Conference.
The theme of the NICArb 2022 conference is: The Future of Arbitration and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Africa: Developments and Sustainability.
Oshodi-John said that the Arbitration Act, if assented to, would put Nigeria in the global map as a dispute resolution-friendly country, thereby, attracting investments.
“Without the new Arbitration Act in place, then all that we do in terms of trying to put Nigeria out there as a friendly dispute resolution country would be more of a rhetoric than a reality.
“The truth of the matter is if we say that Nigeria is doing so well when it comes to arbitration, and mediation and order forms of ADR, and we’re still using a bill that is over two decades old, then we are playing, actually just scratching the surface.
“So, if we want Nigeria to be taken seriously internationally, we must ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari agrees to the new arbitration and mediation act before he leaves office so that we do not go through the same cycle all over again when a new government takes office,” she said.
According to Oshodi-John also said that if the Act is not urgently assented to, all the efforts put in by the arbitration committee, drafters and policymakers in ensuring that Nigeria is up to speed, will be futile.
Speaking on the conference scheduled to hold between Nov. 24 and 25, the Chairman, Organising Committee on the conference, Bar Uche Obi, SAN, said that the theme would speak to quite a number of novel issues around arbitration and ADR.
Obi harped on the need for an effective conflict resolution to drive economic growth and a hub for arbitration and how arbitration can reduce dockets in the judicial system.
“The beautiful thing about this is that when a country has an efficient dispute resolution mechanism, such as arbitration, this will attract investment into the country.
“Among other topics for discussion at the conference are issues about digital tools, other things that can make an impression, environmentally friendly, all that is called Green arbitration.
“Yes, arbitration is an alternative to litigation. But it is not everything that is arbitrable. There are certain things that are not arbitrable.
“For instance, some of our oil and gas laws have provisions that you have to resort to arbitration before doing certain things and some of our labour laws also have such provisions.
“So apart from those specific legislations that make arbitral proceedings mandatory in some circumstances, typically it is consensual. So the parties will have to agree at the time they are entering the agreement, how their disputes will be resolved through arbitration,” he said.
Obi added that the quest to make arbitration more popular was part of the reason for the conference to deepen the process of arbitration and its usage of it in Nigeria and Africa in general.
He also revealed that 1,000 Arbitrators would be inducted during the conference while highlighting some of the speakers as; Hon. Justice Centus Nweze, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Amina Augie, Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; Kazeem Alogba, Chief Judge of Lagos State; Severin Quenum, Minister of Justice and Legislation of the Benin Republic among others.