Disputes and conflicts are an inevitable part of human interaction. Nigeria, like any other nation, experiences its fair share of disputes across various sectors. To ensure justice, maintain peace, and foster socio-economic development, the federal government of Nigeria has established several agencies dedicated to the resolution of disputes. These agencies play a crucial role in addressing conflicts and promoting a harmonious society. The disputes they address often arise from citizen complaints against other government agencies or private businesses. Below, we explore some federal government agencies in Nigeria that resolve disputes filed by citizens. Please note this list is by no means exhaustive.
Public Complaints Commission
The Nigeria Public Complaints Commission has jurisdiction in the thirty-six states of the federation and was established to investigate and address complaints filed against the public and private sectors. The commission exercises its power in a confidential, informal, neutral, and independent manner. According to the commission’s website, www.pcc.gov.ng, they address the subject matters listed below.
- Nonpayment of pension and gratuity benefits
- Nonpayment of compensation(s)
- Wrongful termination of appointment
- Difficulty in getting insurance companies to pay claims
- Nonpayment of goods bought and services rendered
- Nonpayment of salary
- Nonpayment of the contract executed
- Nonpayment/delay in payment of monthly pension
- Unjust disengagement from service
- Excessive/wrongful deductions by banks
- Maladministration from both public and private organizations
- Delay in the release of examination results
- Denial of due promotion
- Wrong computation of retirement benefits
- Double taxation
- Any administrative action/ decision leading to or that results in the commitment of any act of injustice against any citizen of Nigeria or any other person resident in Nigeria.
They have jurisdiction over both public and private sectors. The commission has a separate website, www.pcc.org.ng, dedicated to filing and managing complaints online. If you have a complaint in any of the subject areas over which the commission has jurisdiction, consider filing a complaint with the commission before going to court.
The commission notifies the respondent after the complaint is filed and follows up with the respondent within thirty days. The commission says many cases are resolved at this stage. If the complaint is not settled after the respondent is notified, the commission conducts a further investigation. The commission’s services are also free.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
The NHRC is an independent federal agency charged with the promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria. It serves as a mediator in disputes involving human rights violations. The commission investigates complaints, facilitates dialogue, and seeks amicable resolutions between conflicting parties. Through its actions, the NHRC aims to prevent human rights abuses, promote equality, and foster social justice in the country.
The commission played an active role in the End SARS investigation, and for the Abuja Panel alone, of the 75 decided cases, 27 victims received compensation totaling N146,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Forty-Six Million Naira).
Therefore, if you have suffered human rights violations in Nigeria or a related issue, contacting the commission is one option for redress. The commission’s website lists the addresses and phone numbers of all their field offices in different states.
National Industrial Court
The National Industrial Court is a specialized court established to handle labor and employment-related disputes. It provides an accessible platform for resolving conflicts between employers and employees, trade unions, and other labor-related entities. The court’s jurisdiction covers matters such as wrongful termination, unfair labor practices, and workplace discrimination. By offering an impartial and specialized forum, the National Industrial Court helps ensure fair and efficient resolution of labor disputes.
On its website, the National Industrial Court states the purpose of its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre is “to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution techniques to assist parties to resolve their dispute and arrive at mutually acceptable agreement in less costly, speedy and efficient manner. It is aimed at preserving relationship through reconciliation of parties in dispute thereby engendering industrial peace and harmony ingredients that are germane for economic and industrial development of the country.” While writing this blog, my research led me to a Google review that said “It’s a good court to seek for justice without delay”. This indicates that, like other alternative dispute resolution channels, the national industrial court lives up to its mandate to dispense justice swiftly, in a manner unattainable by traditional courts.
Its website also states it addresses disputes relating to conditions and terms of work, health of workers, workplace safety, and welfare of employees, among others.
Federal Ministry of Justice, Department of Citizens’ Rights
According to the Ministry of Justice’s website, the Citizen’s Rights Department was established around 2005. The department is charged with protection the rights of citizens, and giving them access to justice. If you want to file a petition with the department, you direct it to the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. The petition can relate to the following types of disputes: landlord/tenant disputes, employer/employee, domestic violence, inheritance disputes, widows’ rights, land matters, enforcement of court judgment, among others.
The ministry employs different alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation, arbitration, conciliation, counselling, or a hybrid process to resolve disputes. They also promise prompt and courteous handling of petitions they receive.
Central Bank of Nigeria
The CBN is charged with administering the financial policies of the federal government and exercising control over commercial banks. It also plays a crucial role in resolving disputes between citizens and commercial banks.
If you have a dispute with your bank, for example a fraudulent bank withdrawal and your bank refuses to take responsibility, you may send an email to CBN at firstname.lastname@example.org. CBN also receives complaints at any of its branches nationwide. CBN’s website also lists all the particulars the letter should contain to help in the effective resolution of the complaint. According to CBN, the letter should be clear and concise to avoid ambiguity and should include the following, among other things:
- Name, Address, Contact Phone Number & E-mail of the Complainant;
- Name of Financial Institution;
- Personal banking details (Do NOT include PIN & Passwords, please);
- History/Date of the transaction in dispute;
- Amount claimed (if any);
- Relevant documents to support the claim and;
- Evidence to show that you have first complained to your bank.
CBN also says if you have any question, you may obtain more information on the Complaints Handling Process of the Central Bank of Nigeria from the Complaints Unit of your Bank or from any of the CBN offices nationwide.
I have highlighted these federal government agencies to show there are alternative means of resolving disputes instead of litigation. If you need assistance filing a complaint with any of these agencies, please email me at email@example.com.
To learn more about other alternative dispute resolution channels in Nigeria, you can get my book “Better Roads to Justice: How to Resolve Your Legal Dispute in Nigeria Promptly Without Going to Court.” The book is available on Amazon and for those in Nigeria, on Selar.
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