Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Tuesday, inaugurated members of the National Arbitration Policy Committee.
Among other things, the committee is expected to come out with a comprehensive policy that will ensure that domestic transactions originating and terminating in Nigeria are arbitrated in the country.
In a statement issued by Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr.Umar Jibrilu Gwandu in Abuja, the Minister was quoted to have made the statement at the inauguration at the virtual inaugural meeting of the Committee.
According to Malamie, the proposed National Policy would also provide for sanctions against public officers who do not act in the national interest in the conduct of their official assignments.
He said the P&ID case has raised concerns on the impact of arbitral cases and awards against the country leading to calls for the development of a National Policy on Arbitration to guide the arbitral process and agreements in Nigeria.
The Committee was then charged with the responsibility of developing a transformational Arbitration Policy framework that addresses issues relating to arbitration agreements, government contracts, domestic and
foreign contractual relationships and transactions arising or terminating in Nigeria.
According to the Minister, the objectives of the proposed policy include protecting Nigeria’s economy, ensuring that transactions originating and terminating in Nigeria are arbitrated in Nigeria.
Other objectives were having the seats/venues of arbitrations in Nigeria thereby creating jobs for and maximally harnessing the talents of Nigerian lawyers who have specialised in Arbitration as well as saving the country billions of dollars.
The committee was mandated to review the current laws and policies on Arbitration in Nigeria, proffer advice 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 on the required infrastructure for setting up a world standard Arbitration Center in Lagos and Abuja.
“Our goal is to create an arbitration hub in Africa and to ensure that Nigeria remains the venue of arbitration for transactions arising from Nigeria. It is expected that the National Arbitration policy will be applied in respect of government contracts, such that arbitration agreements in
respect of all disputes arising from governmental contracts, especially with foreign entities will have Nigeria as the seat of arbitration,” he said.
“It is also expected that the federal and state government agencies will adopt this policy to be applied to all agencies, which will encourage domestic arbitration and curtail the flight of arbitration to other countries,” the statement added.
Members of the committee included, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Abubakar B. Mahmoud, SAN, Prof C.J Amasike, of the International Dispute Resolution Institute (IDRI) Mr. Akin Sowemimo, Mr Lawal Hassan from
the Federal Ministry of Power, Mrs. Halima L. Halilu from the Bureau of Public Enterprises,
Other members of the committee included Wilfred Ikatari The Director Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, Mr G. Umar
Andumar, Head of Legal, Nigerian Ports Authority, Chike Okoye Rep. of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Minister of Budget
and National Planning.
The committee also comprises representatives from Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Ministry of Power, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Works and Housing, Bureau for Private Enterprises, and representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice Regional Center for Arbitration.