I was excited to welcome Mrs Achere Cole on Episode 38 of the Expert Views on ADR (EVA) Podcast Show. She is the Ag. Director of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse. LMDC is the first Multi-Door Courthouse or Court-Connected ADR centre in Africa. Mrs Cole was amongst the dignitaries appointed to set up the first Restorative Justice Manual in Nigeria. She has national and regional experience building ADR mechanisms and capacity. Mrs Cole consulted for the Judiciary of Kenya and the International Development Law Organization on a project to support the implementation of the Sustaining Judiciary Transformation Blueprint. She is a CEDR Accredited Mediator, Arbitrator, ADR and Restorative Justice Trainer.
We discussed the role of the Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) in Nigeria and its newest door Restorative Justice (focuses on Minor Criminal Offences and aims to restore or repair the harm caused by the offender) while touching on several aspects of Industrial relations in Nigeria. It is pertinent to point out that for the first time, my PhD findings (2019-2020) (Dr Chinwe Egbunike-Umegbolu) revealed that minor criminal matters were settled via the Restorative Justice Door in Nigeria precisely in both Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) and Enugu State Multi-Door Courthouse (ESMDC).
What is the role of the LMDC?
It is the first court-connected ADR in Africa and was established in 2002. In 2022 the LMDC turned twenty (20) years; it was primarily set up to promote qualitative access to justice through effective, timely and user-friendly ADR Channels such that anyone across the divide can use services provided by the LMDC. The ADR channels they use are mediation, arbitration, conciliation, early neutral evaluation, Hybrids and Restorative Justice.
In Lagos, Restorative Justice (R.J) has been in the works for years in terms of developing a structure, and finally, in 2019, the honourable chief judge of Lagos State passed a practice direction on Restorative Justice. Secondly, there was a sterling committee put together by the ministry of justice Lagos state, which now incorporated the ministry of Justice, which will have the DPP, OPD people from academia, LMDC, and quite a number of people who worked on developing a structure for Restorative Justice in the State. So currently, there is a practice direction, and there is a draft bill on Restorative Justice (RJ). Also, the Minister of Justice now has a Restorative Justice Hub, which coordinates all RJ activities in Lagos State, deals with criminal cases and is responsible for policies.
How does it work?
The RJ Hub is responsible for coordinating cases’ the case comes either from the court, the magistracy and not the H.C. The reason for it is that the Practice Direction particularly restricted RJ to minor offences.