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10 Afr. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 446 (1998)
Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Dispute Resolution: Informal Justice Processes among the IBO-Speaking Peoples of Eastern Nigeria and Their Implications for Community/Neighbouring Justice System in North America

handle is hein.journals/afjincol10 and id is 460 raw text is: SOCIO-CULTURAL DIMENSIONS OF DISPUTE
RESOLUTION: INFORMAL JUSTICE PROCESSES
AMONG THE IBO-SPEAKING PEOPLES OF
EASTERN NIGERIA AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS
FOR COMMUNITY/NEIGHBOURING JUSTICE
SYSTEM IN NORTH AMERICA
VIRTUS CHITOO IGBOKWE*
I. INTRODUCTION
Over the years, legal scholars have had cause to question the efficacy of the
courts in settling controversy between parties before the court. The reasons are
not far-fetched. First, there is an incontrovertible impression that the court
process is only interested in answering the question 'Who has won?' Secondly, it
is argued that the parties leave the court totally estranged from one another. The
court process succeeds in resolving a particular dispute without necessarily
reconciling the warring factions. Against this background, it has been posited
that the court process does not heal but merely proclaims the victorious party.
If the court process does not heal, does this not diminish the role of the courts as
an organ or instrument for creating social harmony. We find instances where a
man who takes his community to court (even where he wins the case) lived a
miserable life thereafter. In some cases, the estrangement is extended to his kith
and kin.1
In Nigerian village communities, a good number of civil disputes, conflicts
and controversies are settled or compromised without even reaching the stage of
any judicial process. They are more often than not settled between the parties
themselves, although sometimes they reach the hands of lawyers and are settled
between them without any legal proceedings being commenced. These settle-
ments are of immense benefit to the whole community because they enable the
members of the society to lead their lives unburdened by resorting to the court
process. In these communities, it is recognised that what the parties really desire
* Fellow of the Law Foundation of British Columbia, The University of British Columbia, Van-
couver' Canada. Formerly a Locum Legal Adviser, The Shell Petroleum Development Company
of Nigeria Limited (Eastern Division). I am grateful to Professor Don MacDougall of the Faculty
of Law, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, for his invaluable comments
on the initial draft of this paper. I am also indebted to George Anibowei, Raymond Mgbeokwere
and Michelle Wright for their assistance; and finally to Cally N. Obi for his undying support and
encouragement. The views expressed in this paper are however, solely those of the writer.
1 See generally, M.M. Green, lbo Village Affairs (London: Sidwick and Jackson Limited, 1947);
D. Forde and G.I. Jones, The lbo and Ibibio-Speaking Peoples of South-Eastern Nigeria
(London: International African Institute, 1967).
10 RADIC (1998)

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