The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, SAN, has called for the establishment of more arbitration institutions and inclusion of other forms of dispute resolution in schools curricular especially at the tertiary level in Nigeria.
Malami made this call on Thursday in a keynote address delivered at the 2022 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArb) held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos.
The theme of the conference was “The Future of Arbitration and ADR in Africa: Developments and Sustainability.”
Malami, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Mr Larry Nwudu, also urged legal practitioners to make Nigeria the seat of arbitration, especially where the subject matter of the dispute involved the country.
This, he said, will not only promote arbitration practice in Nigeria but also enhanced tourism and create a notable surge in foreign direct investment which would in turn boost the nation’s economy.
Malami promised that government on its part would ensure the growth of arbitration by encouraging autonomy of arbitration organization in a bid to make the country become an international arbitration centre,
The minister, however, stressed the need for a legal framework that meets international best practices.
“To attain this, there is need to ensure the continuous training and re-training of judges, lawyers and arbitration practitioners in order to enhance effective dispute resolution and administration of justice,” he said.
Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Chima Nweze, in a keynote address titled: “Arbitration, Justice and the Rule of Law” remarked that a number of factors are working together to elevate arbitrators to a quasi-judicial status.
Nweze said that arbitrators, like Judges, have a duty to act judicially, and that this duty is not merely owed to the parties, but also owed to the public.
He urged members of the institute to always uphold the vital standards of independence and competence throughout the country and give effect to contractual rights in accordance with substantive and procedural legal principles, thereby helping to ensure the rule of law and effective delivery of justice.
He remarked that it was safe to conclude that Africa has achieved reasonable strides towards becoming an investment-friendly and resolution environment with the available arbitration laws and institutions in Africa.
“What remains is for the sincere application of these laws within the institutional framework to promote greater efficiency.
“The role of the national courts and their disposition to support, rather than interfere in the application of other dispute resolution mechanisms will go a long way in promoting Africa as a destination for investment”, he said.
Nweze reiterated the need for African Governments to conscientiously drive infrastructural development that provided safe and efficient cities for arbitration.
The President and Chairman of council, NICArb, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, in his remarks contended that there was a future for arbitration and ADR in Africa.
Ajogwu said it was commendable that Nigerian government has heeded the call by arbitration and ADR practitioners and the need to update arbitration laws.