Cerebral Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba has been appointed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to head the federal government’s Committee for the Development of National Arbitration Policy that would guide the arbitral process and agreements in Nigeria.
Performing the virtual inauguration in Abuja, Malami noted that the Committee came at the nick of time when the practice of arbitration was facing challenges, particularly with the negative outcomes of arbitral proceedings in the ongoing litigation by the Federal Government against the award of almost $10billion (inclusive of seven percent interest) to Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by the London tribunal on January 31, 2017.
He said that the P&ID award has raised concerns on the impact of arbitral cases and awards against Nigeria leading to calls for the development of a National Policy on Arbitration to guide the arbitral process and agreements in Nigeria, adding that such an Arbitration policy will also provide for sanctions against public officers who fail to act in the national interest by ensuring that agreements reflect national laws.
Malami stated that Nigeria, like other jurisdictions has benefited from the growing popularity of arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism and has embraced it in her body of laws and business practices, citing the presence of arbitral bodies and arbitration centers in Nigeria and the adoption of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Cap. A18 Laws of the Federation (LFN) 2004, modeled after the UNCITRAL Model Law as a testimony to its acceptance and institutionalization in Nigeria.
He said it was also expected that the federal and state government agencies will adopt the policy to be applied to all agencies, which will encourage domestic arbitration and curtail the flight of arbitration to other countries.
Major responsibilities of the committee are to review the current laws and policies on Arbitration in Nigeria; Advise on a new national Arbitration Policy; Draft an Executive Order to support the application of the new Arbitration Policy across government agencies; Develop an implementation plan and Advise the federal government on the required infrastructure for setting up a world standard Arbitration Center in Lagos and Abuja.