By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, yesterday, expressed concern over what he described as unending litigation in courts, saying the delay in justice delivery has scared away potential investors from the country.
The CJN directed judges to, henceforth, encourage litigants to explore Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, mechanism in less contentious cases, stressing that would help in the decongestion of courts.
Onnoghen spoke at the opening ceremony of the 2018 National Seminar on Construction Law for Judges, held at National Judicial Institute, NJI, in Abuja.
He maintained that courts must ensure that contracts where arbitration clauses are inserted, must first go through arbitration before the litigation option is explored.
According to him, “this will encourage case flow management, increase investors’ confidence in the construction sector and further strengthen the economy.”
The CJN warned that use of ADR mechanism would form part of the quarterly performance evaluation for Judges..
He said: “My Lords, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, it goes without saying that a justice system, which is riddled with delays in the adjudication of cases will be unattractive to investors.
“It is also instructive to note that, where Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, mechanisms are effectively deployed, same will drastically reduce the volume of cases before our courts. Such a system will encourage investment as investors will be confident that their assets and investments are secured.
“Despite so many laws regulating the construction sector, it has been faced with a myriad of challenges, which has made it unattractive to investors. The most crucial challenge as it relates to Judges is the seeming unending litigations in our courts.”
In her welcome address, Administrator of the NJI, Justice R.P. I. Bozimo, said it was important for judges to continously update their knowledge on specialised area of law and other regulations governing the construction sector so as to ensure fairness to disputing parties.
“The theme of this seminar, ‘Laying the Foundation for Effective Dispute Resolution in the Nigerian Construction Sector’ is apt. This sector is distinct as it plays a significant role in socio-economic development.”
“It is instructive to mention that Nigeria is undergoing incredible growth and as a result of this, the sector faces numerous challenges ranging from archaic regulations, demand and supply, disputes in relation to claims for payment, damages due to defects in completed works, and variations in contract sums due to inflation,” she added.