by David Yomi Tsola Okpaghoro
Today April 8, His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III inaugurated a 7-man Aghofen Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (AADRC) that would forthwith look into burning issues in Iwereland. The Itsekiri Nation has been bedevilled by series of court cases ranging from individuals to families, communities and organisations. These issues have hampered progress in Iwereland as there are several court cases lasting decades still in court as at today. As a result of these, the Olu of Warri in his wisdom decided to inaugurate this committee to help address most of these issues and find a way to resolve them.
In his address, Ogiame Atuwatse III confirmed that Hon. Justice Zai Oritsematosangbemi Smith would Chair the committee. Hon Justice Smith is a retired Chief Justice of Delta State. Other members of the committee are Chief Kofi Edomi Kartey, Rev. Justice S.O Tonwe, Barr. Mrs Elizabeth Jemine Imasuen, Barr. Charles Amajuoritse Ajuyah (SAN), Barr. Mrs Uwala Murphy Akpeyi, and Engr. Gbesimi Akperi.
The inauguration which took place in the fully occupied Main Auditorium, Palace of the Olu of Warri was attended by notable sons and daughters of the kingdom and various communities’ representatives.
Present at the occasion was Her Royal Highness, Olori Atuwatse III was present at the inauguration ceremony. Chief Brown Mene, Chief Gabriel Awala (JP), Chief Dr. Eugene Ikomi, Chief Omolubi Newuwumi, Chief Barr. Robinson Ariyo, Chief Edwin Olley, Chief Clement Maleghemi, Chief Olivia Agbajoh and Chief Billy Besigiwa were also in attendance.
Response from the Aghofen Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee
While responding on behalf of the Aghofen Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (AADRC), Hon. Justice Roli Harriman congratulated His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III for inaugurating the alternative dispute resolution committee. According to her, the panel would ensure a win-win resolution, increase in voluntary compliance, and equal accessibility to all, irrespective of social status. In court, we only have one winner, the other party loses. She added that the establishment of the Aghofen Alternative Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management Panel will be a benchmark for other traditional councils to follow.
Since the monarch ascended to the ancient throne, communities with one issues or the other have been enjoying his listening ears. Today, the Olu has deemed it necessary to establish the dispute resolution committee to assist in dealing with all manner of disputes in the land.
Pending court cases and unresolved cases
According to the Royal Proclamation of the Olu of Warri read by Chief Mene Brown, henceforth, any dispute that cannot be resolved internally, should be taken to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (AADRC) where all issues will be resolved amicably. The panel shall report directly to His Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse III, Chief Brown stated.
The Olu in his closing remark charged that all cases must be withdrawn from court and by the grace of God, it will be resolved in fairness, justice and equity. As a result of this proclamation, it is therefore expected that all protracted court cases be withdrawn and referred to the newly inaugurated AADRC committee for peaceful resolution.