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‘Interest shown by lawyers, business community in arbitration is very encouraging’
A former Attorney General of the Federation and proprietor of the International Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, Abuja (ICAMA) Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, in this interview with Lanre Adewole speaks on importance of arbitration in conflict resolution.
You have been severally acknowledged as one of the doyen of arbitration in Nigeria. What was the catalyst when the concept was not popular among legal practitioners?
The catalyst was role models like Chief (Mrs) Tinuade Oyekunle, Mrs Hairat Balogun and Prince Bola Ajibola to name a few.
As the first Nigerian to become the Trustee for Africa on the Board of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in London, would you say that
your efforts have yielded desired results vis-a-vis, the level of interest being shown in that practice among lawyers today?
The answer is yes, going by the increased interest of legal practitioners and other interest groups like engineers, surveyors, architects and the business community generally in the use of arbitration.
What is responsible for the low level of public awareness on the benefits of arbitration and mediation in Nigeria?
There is need for more awareness through seminars, workshops and training in arbitration and mediation generally.
The International Centre for Arbitration and Mediation, Abuja (ICAMA) is blazing a trail in Nigeria. What is it bringing on board?
It is bringing on board a world class multi-purpose conference centre that offers first rate facilities equipped with latest vedio and audio visual technology for hearings, workshops/seminars, AGMs, board meetings, private meetings, conference and training. It also has vedio conferencing, e-conferencing, seamless wireless Internet, fax and direct dial telephone facilities.
At least, many Nigerians know how the normal courts operate. Isn’t the behind-the-door operation of arbitration and mediation practice responsible for its low embrace by the majority of Nigerians?
It is the other way round. The “behind the door” practice using your own words but which we call the private and confidential nature of the arbitral process that is one of the attractions. It is also quick, efficient and devoid of all the hurdles of a regular court room proceedings.
Why is arbitration being perceived as more of corporate-based?
Because it is usually employed to resolve commercial or business disputes.
Given what arbitration is around the world and particularly in Nigeria, you are eminently qualified to objectively project into the future of the practice?
There is no doubt that it will continue to grow from strength to strength and become more popular particularly with the business community.