By Cecilia Ijuo
Abuja, – The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has advocated Alternative Dispute Resolution as a panacea for various forms of tension and crisis bedeviling the country.
The Deputy President made the call in a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mr Uche Anichukwu, in Abuja on Sunday.
He spoke when he received the Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, which paid him a visit to him in Abuja.
Ekweremadu assured the council that the Senate would continue to support every organisation that is preaching peace.
He stressed that the senate would also support workable modalities from relevant stakeholders in ensuring that Nigerians lived in peace with one another to fast-track the nation’s development.
According to him, the nation is passing through a phase of rough relationships on many fronts and needed the services of trained professionals in Alternative Dispute Resolution, (ADR).
“I am sure you are aware of the growing ethnic tensions all over the country.
“Tension between herdsmen and farmers and tension between different communities in different parts of the country.
“These we have to resolve, not through the right of might, but through some alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
“We believe that these are not matters the courts can easily and effectively deal with. They require alternative means of dispute resolution,“ he said.
The lawmaker called on the Institute of Mediators and Conciliators to deploy its resources, intellect, and skills in ensuring that some of the tensions were resolved effectively.
He said that the Senate was ready to work with the institute and other relevant organisations in promoting ethnic, religious, economic, political harmony and justice.
According to him, the upper legislative chamber has a standing committee dealing with pubic petitions.
“ So, for us in the Senate, we receive and deal with petitions from our constituencies in a non-judicial manner.
“It is a kind of mediation and conciliation aimed at ensuring that disputes are resolved and justice is done in a way that leaves parties involved satisfied.
“ So, we are on the same page with you and I believe we can work together in this regard,’’ he said.
He assured them of the willingness of the Senate to pass legislations to strengthen ADR in the country.
Ekweremadu called for collaboration among various ADR practitioners and organisations in the country for a more effective and harmonised legislation.
“I observed that there are also other organisations, such as the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators, which appear to be doing exactly what you do.
“You need to find a way to liaise with one another so that there can be a harmonised legal architecture for alternative dispute resolution in the country rather than separate legislation for each separate organisation,’’ he advised.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and President, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, Mr Emeka Obegolu, said the visit was aimed at canvassing support for “the Bill for an Act for the Establishment of the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators.’’
He said that though the Bill was passed by the 7th National Assembly, it was, unfortunately not assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He, therefore, pressed for “a little push to help the bill become an Act” to boost its work.
Obegolu said that the Institute had over 6,000 members, consisting of Fellows, Associates, and Members.
He also said that the institute was also working in the North East, where it had trained 56 community stakeholders on mediation and communal dispute resolution.
Obegolu said the institute was equally working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in exploring electoral dispute mediation.
He added that the institute established the Ogun State Court-Connected Multi-Door Court, working with the government of the State and its judiciary.