ONE of the biggest challenges facing the judiciary in Nigeria is the slow dispensation of justice. An average litigation can go on for several years in the country, and this is not fair enough to parties concerned in a case.
However, there are alternatives which can help in reducing the number of cases that go to trial, and mediation is the key in reducing the logjam in the nation’s judiciary.
In order to sensitise Nigerians on the benefits of mediation, the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), Oyo State chapter, recently held a lecture and inauguration.
The event was aimed at sensitizing the public on the advantages of mediation over arbitration and litigation.
In his remarks on the occasion, the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Seun Abimbola, described mediation as a veritable means of settling dispute and bringing peace into the society.
“We have a lot of cases in the courts today that can be settled through mediation, and that is why everybody needs to be aware of the work of the ICMC.
“Sensitisation is the key in getting people to know about the ICMC, and I know that people would prefer a system that will help bring a quick resolution to their conflicts,” Mr Abimbola said. In her submission in the lecture entitled, Deepening mediation through institutional partnership in Nigeria, a don in the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, Dr (Mrs) Alero Akeredolu, said Nigerians should embrace the benefits of mediation instead of spending several years and huge financial resources on a case.
Speaking further, Dr Akeredolu said mediation, which is about people coming together to bring about peace through a common ground accepted by all the parties, would even reduce the burden on the judiciary.
“People waste a lot of years and money allowing some cases to go to trial, but through mediation, such issues can be resolved in months, and on a ground acceptable to all the parties,” Dr Akeredolu said, while charging the ICMC to do more to create awareness on the benefits of mediation.
Earlier, the chainnan of ICMC, Comrade Olu Abiala, admitted that “mediation is part of our culture, but what we are doing now is just to give the act a professional face.
“As an institute, we promote peace, forgiveness, equity, welfare of the greater majority and social justice. We, therefore, encourage the use of effective, conciliatory and economic means of dispute resolution,” the ICMC chairman said.
In his remarks on the occasion, Professor Isaac Olawale Albert of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, also agreed that mediation is better than arbitration, “and that is why we need this institute to be known by all Nigerians, as it will help us resolve issues faster.
“Mediation is a skill, and that is why organizations like the ICMC is around to build the capacity of members to become professional mediators.
“At the moment, Nigeria needs a lot of mediators so that the huge number of cases that go to trial can be drastically reduced,” Professor Albert, who is also the patron of the organization, said. The chairman on the occasion, Chief Adeniran Adetoye, gave an instance of a land crisis in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that had been in court for the past eight years.
“The case had to do with the crisis in a market in Abuja; the parties had been in court for the past eight years, but when the government decided to use mediation to settle the case, we began having a headway.
“I believe that in the next couple of months, the case would have been settled, while the parties involved would all forge a common ground for peace to reign.
“So this is the essence of mediation over arbitration; it gives all parties in a case the opportunity to have their say, and then sacrifices will be made by all to achieve peace.
“Being a mediator is part of our culture. When there are crises in the family or community, people without formal education settle such, so that shows mediation is part of us; however, professionalizing it what we are talking about now, and I know the society will be better for it when people embrace mediation as a form of conflict settlement,” Chief Adetoye, a lawyer said.