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For Alternative Dispute Resolution, Nigeria is fast becoming a hub in Africa; and as Arbitration continues to deepen, Nigeria has actually exported ADR to other African countries, including Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and others. Mr Olatunde Busari, SAN is one of those who pioneered Arbitration practice in Nigeria in the early 1990s. In a chat with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, he spoke on a wide range of issues from Arbitration to Corporate Governance, the NBA, the recent NICN judgement with regard to salaries of judicial officers, why Nigeria doesn’t require a separate court for election matters and insecurity
Arbitration seems to be your core area of expertise. What have you done to promote Arbitration and alternative dispute resolution generally in Nigeria? How popular is ADR today in Nigeria, especially given the slow pace of justice as far as the courts are concerned? Should more emphasis not be placed on it, especially as it is a means of decongesting the clogged court system?
That is correct. I developed a passion for Arbitration and ADR as a young Lawyer in 1995 when little was known about the law, practice and procedure of Arbitration in Nigeria. I read some literature about the subject, and I was attracted to the practice. I saw in it a solution to the congestion of courts, and at the same time, I was encouraged and excited about the prospects of acting as an Arbiter, which meant that I would be a Private Judge appointed by parties to resolve their commercial disputes.
I reached out to practitioners in different jurisdictions in Africa, and also did a background search on the subject. I got introduced to the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb, UK) in the United Kingdom. I applied to join the Institute, and also train under them to become a practicing Arbitrator. The response was positive and encouraging. I was asked to write a short thesis on the subject, and I was thereafter admitted to Associate Membership. I was also informed that there was a small Arbitrators’ Group in Nigeria with Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN as the Secretary, and the late Jurist, Hon. Justice Dr Ola Orojo as the Chairman. Other active members of the Group were Chief (Mrs) Tinuade Oyekunle, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, Mr Babajide Ogundipe, Mr Dele Belgore, SAN, late Chief Ashiru, amongst others. I was delighted to join the Group, and I became one of the pioneers of Arbitration in Nigeria. This Group was later to become the Nigeria Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) with the Late Justice Orojo as the first Chairman. In course of time, I progressed through the membership ladder of the Institute, and in 2004, I became a Fellow and a Chartered Arbitrator of the CIArb.