Institute chairman urges Nigerians to embrace alternative legal resolution
Inspite of the cynicism that still pervades the socio-political space in the use of mediation as an effective conflict resolution tool, the President of the Institute of Chartered Mediators, Dr. Louis Ogbeifun has drummed support for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Ogbeifun, who spoke in Asaba recently at the induction ceremony of new members said that as a process, parties using the ADR have a say in delivering justice to themselves in their own disputes, at their own pace, in a voluntary manner and at the end commit to the outcomes of their resolutions without coercion.
He conceded that the development and effective usage of mediation as an ADR tool has been slowed down because many legal practitioners still believe that mediation is a process that would seriously undermine their livelihoods.
As mediator, the president said that he sees things differently because the man and woman on the street that is confronted with very serious conflict or a worker that has been dismissed or stripped of his/her salary would be only interested in the quickest access to justice at the lowest cost, which mediation fortunately offers.
Ogbeifun said: “As mediators, we understand their fears. We should emphasize with all the proponents. Their fears stem from the fear of the unknown, which is usually the force behind the argument for the status quo. It is for us to work so hard to win them over because the taste of the pudding is in the eating.”
He said that for a very long time, cultural arbitration remained the very popular ADR mechanism for resolving disputes in conflict framework, adding however that as from the late 90s, mediation took a turn off the curve of arbitration when Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo, Mr. Jide Olagunju and Mr. Chino Obiagwu and others initiated the process.
Ogbeifun said the use of cultural dispute resolution mechanisms in the forms of cultural arbitration, counseling and traditional mediation strategies were greatly used in the pre-colonial times in the country.
He said that multi door courthouses have been established in Delta and Ogun states, noting that the institute has succeeded in training 655 new members through out the country in the last one year.
Less than one year after the creation of the Delta State Multi door Courthouse (DSMC), he said that 97 cases including walk-ins were referred to the DSMC out of which 60 got resolved, 10 went back to court while 27 are still pending.
In Abuja, he said that the Abuja Multi Door Courthouse had 275 referred cases last year with 195 as walks-in cases and 80 referred.
At the ceremony which was graced by the Amanayabo of Brass, King Diete Spiff, member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Amechi Mrakpor (Oshimili/Aniocha), Delta Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Peter Mrakpor was inducted as a fellow along with over 50 staff of the ministry 300 Nigerians.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said that measures, which include various legal regulatory frameworks, have been put in place to encourage the use of ADR practice in the state.
Okowa, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Festus Ovie Agas, said that the government has also created the Department of People’s Rights in the Ministry of Justice to serve as an Alternative Dispute Resolution Center.
He said: “This department is empowered to resolve disputes between host communities and investing companies, employer and employee, landlord and tenant, individuals and government, using the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. We have also embarked on the creation of mediation centres across the 25 councils of the state. This will ensure that citizens of the state do not have to travel to Asaba to access the services in the Department of People’s Rights or the Multi-door Courthouse.”
While rationalizing the creation of 25 mediation centers by theministry across the state, Mrakpor urged litigants to explore the use of ADR in resolving their disputes, noting that the desire of government was to make justice delivery faster and cheaper.