Four Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, Andrew Chukwuemerie, Prof Offornze Amucheazi, Dr. Adewale Olawoyin, Ayodele Akintunde were among those who were inducted last week as Fellows of the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators (ICIArb).
Other legal practitioners admitted as fellow were Mrs. Roseline Nwosu, Mrs. Yinka Kolade, Dr. Ifeoma Nwafor, Mr. Uchenna Orakwue, Mr. Kembi Gabriel, Mr. Robinson Omomia and Mr. Pachal Madu. The new members admitted at the Institute include Mr. Joseph Kikiowo, Mr. Kenneth Onyema, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, Mr. Orojinmi Niran, and Mr. Olayinka Davies.
Speaking during the investiture, Mr. Kola Awodein, SAN, President and Chairman of Council, decried the rate at which nominated and appointed arbitrators compromise and undermine the integrity of arbitral process in the conduct of arbitration generally in the country, adding that, it has become disturbing and worrisome to say the least. Awodein, who was represented by the President-elect of the institute, Felix Okereke-Onyeri said the Institute is poised to free the construction industry from protracted litigation and uncertainties inherent in construction-related disputes, through innovative and tailor-made dispute resolution strategies. He said it has, therefore, become necessary for Lawyers involved in arbitration in the construction industry, to ensure that “the brand reflects the professionalism and service that has been our legacy for nearly three decades”. He charged Lawyers involved in arbitration in the construction industry, to be diligent, as sanctions will henceforth be meted out to erring ones by the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators. According to him, aside from disciplining erring members, the Institute will also report such erring members to all professional and statutory bodies, that can discipline them. The ICIArb President said in many cases, such arbitrators, knowing that relationships they have with either counsel or the parties are such as to disqualify them from accepting nominations or appointments as their independence is called into question, still unethically refuse or decline to disclose such relationship or to recuse themselves.
Secretary of the Institute, Emmanuel Dike, in his address, stressed the need for continuous professional development for fellows and members of the Institute. Dike encouraged them to attend courses by other professional bodies that may enhance their skills and competence, such as those of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Institute of Architects, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, among others. “Construction involves immense multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary activity, governed by layers of simultaneous contractual relationships. An understanding of the technical principles for the purpose of dispute resolution provides an edge to the professional equipped with the relevant skillset,” he said.