By Innocent Anaba
VICE President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, SAN, has urged businessmen in Nigeria to embrace commercial arbitration for the desired speed in dispute resolution to attract international investors. Professor Osinbajo, said that with the robust dispute resolution mechanism like Arbitration in place, the country will actualise her vision of becoming the next major destination for foreign investment.
Speaking at the 1st ICC Africa Regional Arbitration Conference in Lagos with the Theme, “Arbitration and Africa: Prospects and Challenges,” he noted that the availability of dispute resolution mechanism was a factor in all investors’ decision.
Represented by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, Osinbajo stated that the dispute resolution constituted a significant determinant of a country’s ranking in the ease of doing business, adding that disputes were common in the business environment. “Every prudent society must design and constantly draw up process through which disputes could be resolved in an amicable manner.
“In the world of today, commercial arbitration is now recognised as a preferred method of resolving several commercial disputes. “Arbitration is now seen as not only possessing the desired speed but also aggregating competency and often times, the relationship is tied to this process,” Osibanjo explained.
The Vice President, however, urged conference participants to take time to address the critical issues which would expand arbitration as a desired tool for dispute resolution in Nigeria.
President, ICC Court of International Arbitration Paris, Mr. Alexis Mourre, at the event, commended Nigeria for hosting the 1st Africa Regional Arbitration conference. Mourre noted that with more engagement and interactions on Arbitration, commercial practitioners would recognise arbitration, just like common law and civil law. According to Mourre, ICC was one of the institution that adopted arbitration and 70 percent of the world’s arbitration come from ICC. “Arbitration is booming in Africa. We hope that at the end of the conference, we will be seeing more arbitrators in Africa,” Mourre emphasized.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Chairperson, ICC conference Planning Committee, Mrs. Dorothy Udeme-Ufot, SAN, stated that the theme of the three-day conference, “Arbitration and Africa:Prospects and Challenges” was chosen by the Planning Committee because Africa is the next major destination for Foreign Direct Investments, FDIs.
She urged the international community to support Africa’s effort to promote economic growth and investment. Ufot said that investors were also interested in infrastructure, technology, agrio-business, consumer goods and manufacturing companies that would create sustained growth and create jobs and improved livelihood.
“There is no way commercial disputes will not arise during these process and the conference aims at settling the background for their resolution,” ufot explained. According to her, ICC Nigeria is an affiliate of the ICC headquters in Paris. ICC was establised in 1919 in Paris. It was one of the largest business organiastion in the world with over six million companies and chambers of commerce and busines assocaites in more than 130 countries, including Nigeria. She mentioned that the conference had been taken all over the world, adding that Nigeria was grateful to host the 1st ICC Africa Regional Arbitration Confernce.
Ufot also commended the President of ICC International for ensuring that the conference took place in Nigeria. “All countries in Africa are busy trying to attract foreign investments. You will agree with me that without international arbitration, there cannot be foreign investors. In any jurisdiction, arbitration is one of the viable components for attracting foreign investors,” she said.
Ufot, commended organisations that supported the Nigerian ICC conference such as Globacom Ltd, Dangote group of companies, the NBA, the Nigerian Shippers Counci, the Nigerian Port Authority, among others. The three-day conference attracted distinguished industry experts and Arbitrators specially selected from all over the world, including resource persons across all sectors . The event also featured different sessions with lively discussions which addressed topical themes in arbitration.
Speakers at the event included President Nigerian bar Association, Mr Augustine Alegeh, SAN, Chief Sena Anthony, Mr. Hassan Bello, Professor Paul Idornigie SAN, Tunde Ogunseitan, Ned Mojuetan, Kofi Mbiah, Rukia Baruti, Dr. Emilia Onyema, Jerome Finnis, Sammi Houerbi, Harry Matovu QC, Jimmy Kodo, Mr. Kamal Shah, among others. Others in attendance were fommer Attoney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice , Chief Bayo, Ojo SAN, Mrs. Funke adekoya, SAN, Chief Gabriel Olawoyin, SAN and Mr. Gbenga Oyebode.