The Citizens’ Mediation Centre (CMC) resolved about 20,000 of the about 28,000 disputes brought before it last year, the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Funlola Odunlami, has said.
She spoke during a press briefing to kick-start the Walk for Peace/Legal Clinic, organised by the CMC and the United Nations (UN) to commemorate this year’s International Day of Peace.
“I cannot give the statistics right now, but the Citizens’ Mediation Centre received about 28,000 disputes last year and successfully resolved at least 20,000 of this number,” she said.
Odunlami, who represented Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, disclosed plans to set up Citizens’ Mediation Centres in all the Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
“Currently, the centre has 14 units spread across the state with the head office at Motorways Centre, Alausa. Other sub-offices are located at Agege, Amukoko, Badagry, Bariga, Iba, Ibeju, Lekki, Ikorodu, Ikotun, Lagos Island, Alimosho, Ojo, Oshodi and Yaba.
“However, part of the policy thrust of this government is to ensure that a unit is established in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in Lagos State in order to bring mediation services closer to the people.”
The CMC’s Core Pillars of Mediation, Odunlami said, include the preservation of existing and maintaining of the future relationship of disputing parties; confidentiality, neutrality and flexibility of process.
The governor also announced that the state had, through the CMC, adopted the United Nation’s (UN) International Day of Peace, which is observed on September 21, every year.
Participants at the event included Director, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Ronald Kayanja, who represented UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon; Coordinator, African Women Lawyers’ Association (AWLA) Mandy Asagba; Clara Ibirogba, Director of Citizens’ Rights and a member of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), Dafe Ivwurie, Head, Media Relations and Events, Keystone Bank, among others.
Governor Ambode noted that the theme of this year’s commemoration; “Partnership for Peace – Dignity for All”, highlights the importance of all segments of society to work together for peace.
He said: “The UN has been able to achieve its laudable programmes through the thousands of partnerships each year with governments, civil society, the private sector, faith-based groups and other Non-Governmental Organisations.
“In 1999, the Lagos State Government established the CMC to provide access to justice to indigent residents of the state. It is an initiative under the Ministry of Justice to serve as a non-adversarial dispute resolution centre through the use of mediation mechanism in dispensing justice fairly, speedily and without discrimination, fear or favour.”
The governor added: “The Citizens’ Mediation Centre wishes to adopt this UN International Day of Peace as an annual event to propagate the ethos of peaceful co-existence among residents of Lagos State.”
UNIC Director, Mr. Kayanja, speaking in his personal capacity, commended the state for its free mediation programmes through the CMC.
He said the CMC’s intervention had resolved many disputes which could have led to a breach of the peace.
He added that the CMC’s mediation programme was similar to the UN’s Preventive or Quiet Diplomacy.
Mr. Kayanja said: “For Nigerians, the best example of that was when Prof Gambari was the country’s Special Envoy of the UN to Myanmar; that is the kind of work that the UN does, just like the CMC.
“It does not so much capture headlines because we prevent conflicts and no one will ever know how many conflicts the UN has prevented, just like they won’t know how many the CMC has helped to prevent.”
The Walk for Peace and Legal Clinic rally kicked off around 8:30am at the Bagulda Kaltho Press Centre, Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, and terminated under the Ikeja Bridge.
It was followed by the provision of free legal services to Lagos residents by lawyers from the state’s Ministry of Justice.