APPRAISAL OF CUSTOMARY LAW ARBITRATION IN NIGERIA
1.1. Background of the Study
Disputes, in their various guises, are an inevitable part of human interaction. No society exists of which there have never been differences. Indeed, conflicts among human beings are as old as life itself and will always exist.
Certainly, the things that can ignite or fuel disputes, controversies, or disagreements between people or communities or groups or societies, even amongst nations are legion and diverse. For example: Disputes may arise from different human transactions including economic activities, family relationships, community and neighbourhood activities, and other social relationships, international activities, religious activities, and other civil activities. It could occur on account different subject matters, such as ideas or beliefs, values, material resources, roles and responsibilities or from personal disagreements, religious crises, political, ethnic, marital disputes, chieftaincy matters, land and community boundary disputes and even economic conflicts.6
In addition to the foregoing prodigious circumstances, it must be agreed that divergence of opinion among individuals, social groups, or societies; differences in societal values; as well as differences in individual’s level of education, tolerance, maturity, understanding, interests, and the different ways by which different individuals, sects, or societies reason and/or react to issues concerning them or their loved ones account for much of the disputes or disagreements in our society, and indeed, the world today.
Experiences have shown that peace is a sine qua non for meaningful human existence and development. But peace can hardly thrive where there exist controversies, disagreements or unresolved disputes. In like manner, it is very unlikely for any meaningful development to issue forth, take place or manifest where there is no peace. For this reason, mankind had ultimately to device different means of resolving their differences whenever and wherever it occurs. This is to enable the disputing parties to resume their normal cordial relationships once again, and for peace to reign in society. This is more so since the continuance of such controversies or disputes whether it is due to carelessness, mistake, wilful wrongdoing or mere misunderstanding would always energize the conflict between the disputing parties and deepen their disagreements and grief against each other.
Perhaps, it was against this backdrop that a learned English author, Richard Bruce of the Gray’s Inn, in his work, Success in Law, wrote:
A man living on his own on a desert island can behave exactly as he likes. As soon as a second arrives, however, the two of them must come to some arrangement or agreement as to how they are going to get along together … Every society in every age has found it essential to work out a code of rules to which its members must conform, for otherwise there would soon be no society at all – only rival gangs of thieves fighting endless vendettas against one another.
Similarly, the African Mediation and Community Service posited that:
Disagreements and misunderstanding are key characteristics of human relationships whether the relationship is a domestic, national or international one.