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‘$10 billion arbitral award underscores need for ADR’s consolidation in Nigeria, others’

By Bertram Nwannekanma
26 April 2022   |   3:55 am
Recent legal move by the Federal Government to overturn the $10 billion arbitration award against it in Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) case has underscored the need for consolidation of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Nigeria and African continent.

Dorothy Ufot (SAN)

Recent legal move by the Federal Government to overturn the $10 billion arbitration award against it in Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID) case has underscored the need for consolidation of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Nigeria and African continent.
     
Chairman, Arbitration Commission of International Chambers of Commerce Nigeria (ICCN), Mrs. Dorothy Ufot (SAN), expressed this view at a briefing, heralding the 6th ICC Africa Regional Arbitration Conference slated between June 1 and 3, 2022 in Lagos.
    
Ufot said Nigeria and indeed Africa are losing billions of dollars because the ADR centres are not held in their domain.
  
According to her, with the abundance of natural resources, most investors, who do not want to subscribe to rigorous legal processes of the countries of their operations, opt for arbitration as a means of resolving disputes, which is inevitable in business transactions.
    


Unfortunately, London, Paris, Geneva and New York, she said, are preferred designations for ADR, with attendant loss to Nigeria and and other African countries.
  
The learned silk, said the ICC Arbitration conference, which is in its 6th year is changing the narratives, as Nigeria and Africa countries can now boast of chartered arbitrators, while Nigerian judges are now arbitration friendly.
 
She also said the challenges occasioned by the reluctance to make Nigeria seat for arbitration by many foreign firms are now easing out.
   
Ufot noted that the conference, themed: “African Arbitration: Consolidation and Transformation”, is aimed at deepening gains made in the last six years, since enforcement of awards is still a challenge, as many lawyers have not really understood its operation.
 
According to her, Claudia Salomon, the first woman President of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Court of Arbitration, in its almost 100-year history, will lead other high profile speakers to the conference.

Also, chairman of the conference planning committee, Prof Gbolahan Elias (SAN) said senate president, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, judges and other stakeholders are expected to grace the occasion to provide perspectives that will help consolidate African Arbitration.
  
According to Elias, with the growing number of arbitration cases in Nigeria and other African countries, there is a need to consolidate and expand the practices so as to gain the confidence of investors to sit for arbitration within the continent.
  
Elias said the conference would feature a training session for young arbitrators on June 1 at Eko Hotel, while the conference will kick off properly on June 2.
 


He stressed that the Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo–Iweala, top business executives and other international business leaders across the globe are expected in the two-day programme.
  
Also, ICCN Secretary, Mrs. Olubunmi Osuntuyi, said the conference is very strategic for the Nigerian arbitration community, to the extent that it keeps creating a growing awareness of the importance of arbitration in the dispute resolution processes.
   
According to her, the conference is open to seasoned arbitrators, academia, legal practitioners and users of arbitration, parties and persons interested in arbitration, who had the opportunity to critically analyse issues facing arbitration in Africa.
 
She also said the conference will be bilingual with the active participation of  Francophone African countries.