By Kingsley Adegboye
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,which regulates and supervises the operations of mortgage banks in Nigeria has renewed efforts at building public confidence as well as engendering soundness and stability in the mortgage banking sub-sector of the nation by setting up an Alternative Dispute Resolution ADR, platform/financial Ombudsman for the mortgage banking sector which will be resting on a sub-committee on ethics and professionalism.
The new platform is aimed at ensuring settlement of disputes between mortgage banks and their customers on one hand, and among the mortgage banks on the other hand.
Expectedly, the new move has expanded the frontiers of ADR which is already gaining ground tremendously as no one wants to go to court ordinarily and also because court cases or litigations are not only expensive, but also leads to frustration and damages relationships.
Exponents of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution platform argue that if business is about making money and creating values that lead to growth of the business, anything that could impede that growth should be discouraged.
ADR is a process that works and is recognised by the justice administration system. Disputants are therefore, encouraged to take their cases out of court and resolve them through mediation because the time they spend in court is part of their bottom line which should be used in growing their businesses.
“Why should people be embroiled in court, a process that damages relationships, where only one side wins, when there is a process that supports business in terms of timeliness and ensures win-win solutions to old or bitter fights and also ensures a mutually beneficial outcome?” says Osarieme Ezekiel, Managing Partner at Oakwell Partners, a commercial law firm in Lagos.
CBN’s ADR sub-committee which is a self-regulatory body, has the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria CIBN, complex as its secretariat. Seye Awojobi, Registrar/CEO of CIBN, commended the establishment of the sub-committee, describing the development as “a noble initiative.”
Awojobi, who also doubles as the Secretary of the sub-committee, called on mortgage bank customers and the banks to take opportunity of the platform, which is free, to resolve their disputes with the banks and among themselves.
The membership of the sub-committee includes representatives of the CBN, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, CIBN, Haggai Mortgage Bank Limited, Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc, Mortgage Bankers Association of Nigeria, MBAN, and Imperial Homes Mortgage Bank Limited.
He enjoined mortgage banks to set up a Complaints Desk to handle customers’ complaints, as only the cases the banks are not able to resolve would be brought before the Sub-committee for adjudication and settlement.
Also, “the Sub-committee will not handle cases which had already been reported to and handled by the regulatory authorities or cases before the court. Furthermore, it will not entertain cases that are more than six years old in line with Statute of Limitation Act,” the CIBN boss explained.