The European Union says no fewer than 2,404 traditional rulers and community leaders in three states in Nigeria’s North East region were trained in dispute resolution between 2017 and 2023, through its Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme.
The MCN National Programme Manager, Muhammed Tabiu, disclosed this on Tuesday at a two-day workshop titled “Impact dissemination and lessons learning event for traditional justice intervention in the North East,” which held in Abuja.
Mr Tabiu also disclosed that no fewer than 44,411 different cases ranging from disputes between farmers and herders, business disputes, family and domestic concerns, theft and others had been resolved using the knowledge from the training by traditional rulers and community leaders in the emirates covered by the programme.
The MCN Programme is an initiative of the European Union, implemented by the British Council in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The MCN Programme is aimed at improving security and stability to prevent population displacement and forced and irregular migration.
Mr Tabiu said that the MCN Programme sought to enhance the capacity of government, security, community and civil society institutions and actors to address factors that contribute to the outbreak, intensity, impact and prolongation of violent conflicts.
He said that the programme was piloted in four Emirates in each of the North East states where the programme was implemented.
“As part of its intervention in strengthening community-level conflict management mechanisms, the programme has worked with the traditional institutions and actors targeting 12 key emirates across the region,” he said.
Mr Tabiu listed the emirate as Adamawa emirate, Mubi emirate, Ganye emirate, Bachama traditional council; Borno emirate, Biu emirate, Dikwa emirate and Gwoza emirate in Borno State; Fika emirate, Damaturu emirate, Bade emirate and Pataskum emirate in Yobe State as the emirates that benefited from the programme.
In an effort to create a bridge in the delivery of justice, Mr Tabiu said that the capacities of the stakeholders were improved around alternative dispute resolution processes, Nigerian civil law, human rights, and an interface between formal and non-formal security and safety institutions.
“A total of 1920 participants cutting across district heads, village heads, ward heads as well as 160 wives and women involved in the community safety concerns.
“The Programme was also to support each emirate to establish a record-keeping centre for documenting identified and engaged issues.
“To use data obtained from different levels to plan a response, decision making and other specific purposes such as in addressing sexual and gender-based violence.
“To sanitise the traditional justice system conflict management mechanisms and approach, a standard code of conduct was developed in a close working relationship with the emirate councils, ministries for local government and chieftaincy affairs and other stakeholders.
“The code of conduct provides an accountable mechanism for the operation of the traditional rulers in each of the three states as well as in the emirates.
“As of July 2022, these emirates have resolved about 44,411 different cases ranging from disputes between farmers and herders, business disputes, family and domestic concerns, theft and others,” he said.
Speaking on the impact of the programme, Tabiu said the traditional rulers have handled 46,821 cases of which 90 per cent of cases from the four Emirates were successfully resolved.
He added that the programme had facilitated the development and adoption of a code of conduct for traditional leaders
“It also supported the establishment of four Record-Keeping Centres in four emirate councils (Borno, Blu, Dikwa and Gwoza) and supported to organise quarterly meetings to enhance peace and security.
“It equally enhanced coordination with formal security and justice institutions.
“The programme has also helped in successful replication of interventions in some locations in the North East.”
Mr Tabiu added that research by the MCN also revealed a modest increase in public perception of the effective functioning of the Traditional Justice System (TJS) from 40 per cent in 2017 to 45 per cent in 2022 and that 336,047 people have benefited from the services of TJS.
He also expressed delight that through the knowledge gained from the programme one of the beneficiaries from Fika Emirate, testified that his emirate was able to address a dispute that had lingered for over 60 years.
In 2019, PREMIUM TIMES published a special report detailing how many Nigerians, especially rural dwellers, have embraced the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system of dispensing justice in some communities in Abuja.
The ADR, also known as out-of-court settlement, is a formal agreement to resolve a dispute or a lawsuit without judicial intervention or approval.
System practised before the coming of colonial rulers
In his remarks, the Emir of Fika and Chairman, of Yobe State Council Of Emirs, Muhammad Idrissa, commended the EU for the programme.
The traditional ruler urged that the programme should be strengthened, rather than bring it to a close.
Speaking further, he also urged federal and state governments to key into the programme.
Mr Idrissa said even though the traditional rulers and community leaders were at the helm of the administrative system before independence and the colonial era, the programme was beneficiary to the traditional justice system.
“It is a global belief that for any developmental programme to be sustainable, especially in the areas of peacebuilding and effective conflict management, the traditional institutions are critical for the desired successes,” Me Saidm said.
The Emir of Biu, in Borno state, Mustapha Mustapha lI, who was represented by Ibrahim Birma, Birma of Biu, commended the EU for the Programme. He also urged for the programme to be sustained. This, he said, has impacted the emirate system on the resolution of conflicts.
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