Contact information

Contact information

Contact information

Jelmer Brouwer,  Data Analysis and Reporting Officer

T: +31 (0) 70 762 0700 | E: jelmer.brouwer@hiil.org
Muzenstraat 120, 2511 WB The Hague, The Netherlands
www.hiil.org

Maurits Barendrecht,  Director Research & Development

T: +31 (0) 70 762 0700 | E: maurits.barendrecht@hiil.org
Muzenstraat 120, 2511 WB The Hague, The Netherlands
www.hiil.org

About HiiL

HiiL (The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law) is a social enterprise devoted to user-friendly justice. That means justice that is easy to access, easy to understand, and effective. We will ensure that by 2030, 150 million people will be able to prevent or resolve their most pressing justice problems. We do this by stimulating innovation and scaling what works best. We are friendly rebels focused on concrete improvements in the lives of people. Data and evidence is central in all that we do. We are based in The Hague, City of Peace and Justice.

The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law
Fluwelen Burgwal 58, 2511 CJ The Hague
P.O. Box 93033, 2509 AA The Hague
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 70 762 0700
E-mail: info@hiil.org
www.hiil.org

Follow us:

6. Conclusion

6. Conclusion

This report has been developed to support the Strategy Document, Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State, published in April 2021. The findings in this report accompany the strategies developed in the stakeholder dialogues with data and know how that is relevant for the implementation phase. The data in Chapter 2 give an indication of the capacity needed. We estimated the number of problems that Ogun citizens have to resolve each year, in each of the four problem categories. The basis for this is data on prevalence of justice problems in Nigeria in 2018, so estimates may need to be revisited during the implementation phase.

In Chapter 3, we followed the justice journeys of Nigerians for the most frequent civil justice problems. This gives an indication of how people in Ogun State currently resolve these problems. Starting from this baseline, the stakeholders developed strategies to improve resolution and prevention of these problems. They formulated four goals, looked at indicators of success, explored game-changing justice services to achieve the goals and investigated pathways to implementation. 

Chapter 4 contains information on how other jurisdictions deal with the four categories of justice problems that the stakeholders have selected. It also gives access to research on what works to resolve or prevent such justice problems. The strategies that have been selected by the stakeholders are in line with what is being undertaken in other jurisdictions. Experiences from other Nigerian states and insights from major R&D programs are available. For land conflicts and domestic violence, we derived a clear list of attention points from this extensive knowledge base. For resolution of neighbour disputes and separation/divorce problems the international sharing is less advanced, but useful insights could be derived as well. 

For each of the four goals, it is recommended to distinguish between the interventions that can resolve or prevent the problem and the services model that deliver these interventions to the people needing them. The first is about finding the best possible “treatments” for land grabbing or different types of domestic violence. The second is about scaling justice services in a sustainable way. For the former, it is recommended to investigate best practices and evaluation studies of interventions, leading to practice guidelines similar to the ones used in the health care sector and increasingly also in the justice sector. For scaling justice services, game-changing models exist that can be further developed and adapted to the realities in Ogun State. The stakeholders focused on services that can be delivered in the communities, close to where people live and in the settings where land conflicts, neighbour problems, separations and domestic violence occur. They also investigated how these local justice services can be linked to the civil justice services delivered by the courts, ensuring high quality interventions that protect vulnerable groups. This is a main challenge for many jurisdictions and it is possible to benefit from experiences elsewhere. 

Chapter 5 contains a brief discussion of the enabling environment for delivering effective interventions through game-changing models for justice services. This may require new regulation models for legal services and for procedures. When further implementing the strategies, the stakeholders will have to navigate the regulatory environment. 

5. Enabling environment

5. Enabling Environment

Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State / 6. Enabling Environment

Photo: cottonbro from Pexels

What are the barriers stakeholders see to effective delivery and scaling of civil justice services? What ways do they see to overcome these barriers?

Game-changing civil justice services may be public services, private services or public-private partnerships. Whether these models can succeed, will depend on the regulatory environment that may need to be improved. The strategy document mentions a number of laws and regulations that may need to be changed. At this stage of the process, not all regulatory impediments and needs could be identified. The following is an initial checklist of elements of an enabling environment for implementation which may need further investigation.

For example, the Director of the Citizens Rights Department outlined a clear strategy to increase use of ADR in Ogun State. However, this would mean changing the rules about which problems are solved where.

We need to adopt the ADR method used in Lagos, so that all cases go through ADR first. This will help decongest the cause list. We will need an amendment of our procedural rules to effect this. (...) For instance, in Lagos, cases have to go through ADR first, then if it cannot be settled, the court proceeds with the full process.

Other experts also indicated more enforcement powers should be given to the multi-door courthouse or that the private sector could play a role. These are only some examples of changes in the regulatory environment that could be considered. The stakeholders may benefit from more information on these issues in the 2021 HiiL trend report, Chapter 7 on the enabling environment. 

4. Game-changing services proposed

4. Game-changing services proposed

Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State / 4. Game-changing services proposed

Photo: Sebastian Voortman from Pexels

What are key elements of the Civil Justice Innovation Goals formulated in the strategy? What can be learned from experience in other countries? And what can be done to strengthen these proposals, in light view of the targets set by the stakeholders?

4.1 Game-changing services initially proposed and considered

Court procedures and legal services by lawyers can be effective. In most countries, they struggle to achieve sufficient scale: they reach few people. Research on the most promising justice services, how to standardise them and how to fund them is ongoing4.

The enrolment interviews also offered stakeholders the opportunity to relay their take on potential game-changers for Ogun State. Digitisation, ADR and more effective use of multi-door courthouses were mentioned most often. What is important is not necessarily the number of game-changing services identified, but more vital to people-centred transformation is ensuring that they are implemented, they work, and the people are able to measure them as accessible, easy and affordable.

In the stakeholder interviews and during the first dialogue, various ADR services were mentioned:

A next step might be to investigate how many people use these services. For multi-door courthouses, data are available, for instance in this paper (Emilia Onyema and Monalisa Odibo, How Alternative Dispute Resolution made a comeback in Nigerian Courts, 2017; see box below for a summary).

Interviewed experts routinely mentioned the multi-door courthouse as the best example of ADR in Ogun State. In the words of the Olota of Ota:

I think one of the best ways that we are witnessing now is the multi-door courthouse. Because people like us can adjudicate over issues and we are eager to ensure that people get justice.

Other experts concurred:

Of the options available, the multi-door court house is still the most preferred to the court and the police in achieving solutions for civil justice problems in Ogun State. If the Multi-Door Court House is effective, it remains one of the best amongst the available options.

Among the positive elements of multi-door courthouse, the experts highlighted the low costs for disputants, the informal nature of the process, and the relatively quick manner in which disputes are resolved. Experts also stressed that resolving disputes through ADR and the multi-door courthouse helps to build and maintain relationships that might be damaged if the dispute is taken to court. At the same time, awareness about its existence and the opportunities it offers was highlighted as one of the major challenges for the multi-door courthouse, together with funding. In the words of the President of the Customary Court in Ota:

Interviewed experts routinely mentioned the multi-door courthouse as the best example of ADR in Ogun State. In the words of the Olota of Ota:

The multi-door courthouse has been trying, but unfortunately most people are not aware of its existence. The police is out of it entirely, but unfortunately that is still the first point of call of litigants when problems arise. When they leave the police with their issues, they would still be referred back to court to have their issues resolved.

Another major challenge raised by several experts was the lack of adequate funding for the multi-door courthouse. It seems that the Ogun State multi-door courthouse is a promising and widely supported initiative, which still has some room left to become a truly effective dispute resolution service.

IN FOCUS:
MULTI-DOOR COURTHOUSES

We gathered the following findings on the multi-door courthouses in a number of states in Nigeria:

A number of game-changing services are increasingly on the radar screens of reformers in civil justice and criminal justice. These services exist in some form in most countries and have the potential to deliver effective solutions in a scalable and sustainable way. 

Community justice services, one-stop dispute resolution services and people-centred innovation and advice are most likely to contribute to improvements in civil justice delivery. For land conflicts, user-friendly documents may be relevant as well. In many countries, such services already exist and can be scaled. This may require standardisation, investments and better models for ensuring sustainable revenues (for more information on scaling services see this chapter in HiiL’s 2021 trend report).

Community Justice Services

Community justice services are all about delivering high-quality, standardised forms of informal justice close to people’s homes. Although community justice services exist in different forms in different countries, they can be identified by three key characteristics:

Community justice services tend to be more common in rural settings than in cities. 

Community justice services can suggest a recourse to formal courts or could be under the supervision of formal courts. They can also be connected to local or central government, with the potential to scale across borders. At the same time, their rootedness in specific communities may limit their potential to be really scalable.

HiiL’s online dashboard has a dedicated page for community justice services

Platforms offering mandatory one-stop dispute resolution

People seeking justice often need to find different services in completely different places, making the process of seeking justice unnecessarily complicated. Bringing these different services together in one place would therefore greatly improve and simplify the process for people lost in the justice system. This is why one-stop shops, platforms offering different dispute resolution services in one place, are a great way to improve access to justice.

At one location, these platforms connect the different stages of the justice process: diagnosis, advice, negotiation, mediation and adjudication. They can focus on all types of civil justice problems. The aim is to create an integrated ‘treatment’ that focuses on reaching an agreement between the parties, rather than a judgment. To facilitate such agreements, evidence-based approaches are used. One-stop dispute resolution platforms can be supported online as much as possible.

HiiL’s online dashboard has a dedicated page for platforms offering one-stop dispute resolution with examples and tools to develop business cases/financial models.

People-centred online information

As the number of people able to access the internet continues to grow around the world, the number of justice services offering online information, advice, or representation has equally mushroomed. 

The provision of people-centred online information and advice, combined with follow-up services, can really help people solve their legal problems in a step-by-step way. Such services can be run by law firms, motivated individuals, legal start-ups, charities and non-profit organisations, and sometimes even by the government.

Despite the potential of such websites and apps to offer a helpful starting point for people with legal problems, they require substantial investment to become effective self-help guides leading to higher rates of resolution. As a result, examples of these are still rare, even in high-income countries.

HiiL’s online dashboard has a dedicated page for people-centred online information.

4.2 Integrated resolution for neighbour disputes

In Ogun State, the yearly expected number of neighbour disputes is at least 140,000. Stakeholders aim to increase the number of disputes dealt with in communities. 

PROPOSAL:
Ogun people will develop and use informal/local dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve neighbour disputes.

To increase the capacity to solve and prevent neighbour disputes, stakeholders proposed:

Community justice services exist in many countries (see map on HiiL dashboard). Seven organisational models exist (see table below). One model is a generic informal justice model, depending on how informal justice is organised in each single community. Two models ensemble lawyer-representation models. One model is an interdisciplinary one. Three models are based on links between neutral courts and informal justice. These models are most close to what stakeholders proposed: local (informal) courts, justices of the peace and judicial facilitators.

Nokukhanya Ntuli (Africa: Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Comparative Perspective, Conflict Studies Quarterly 2018, p. 36) advises to build on existing informal justice mechanisms, as they exist already in many African communities. She warns against implementing “foreign” ADR concepts, without considering the lessons learned about ADR. One of these lessons is that the incentives to use ADR or informal justice need to be increased. 

Scroll left and right to view the whole table.

Local delivery model
Focus justice problems
Focus in services
Follow-up services if not successful
Main revenue streams
Civil legal aid lawyers
Disputes and crimes
Mediation, advocacy, navigating adjudication
Legal aid lawyers, formal court adjudication
Fees, NGOs, Ministry of justice
Community paralegals
Disputes and crimes

Issues with companies and state institutions
Education, mediation, monitoring, advocacy
Legal aid lawyers, formal court adjudication
NGOs, Community contributions
Informal justice by local leaders and others
Disputes and crimes
Mediation, adjudication
Any
Time from volunteers and officials
Justices of the peace
Minor disputes and crimes
Mediation, adjudication
Referral to formal court adjudication
Judiciary
Judicial facilitators
Disputes and crimes
Education, mediation
Integration with local court adjudication
Judiciary
Local (informal courts)
Minor disputes and crimes
Mediation, adjudication
Enforcement in community
Local government
Houses of justice
Disputes and crimes
Information, advice, referral
Any
Ministry of justice

Her article is one of many overviews of existing mediation and adjudication practices in various regions that can help in understanding the variety of informal justice mechanisms that exist. Many attempts have been made to map community justice mechanisms in Yoruba communities (see Adeyinka Theresa Ajayi and Lateef Oluwafemi Buhari, Methods of Conflict Resolution in African Traditional Society, African Research Review 2014, p. 138 for one example).  

The following elements of the proposal are very much supported by the literature: 

The following suggestions can strengthen the proposal:

4.3 Preventing and resolving land conflicts

In Ogun State, the yearly expected number of land disputes is at least 100,000. Disputes over boundaries/access, land titles/ownership, use of land and land grabbing are most frequent. Stakeholders aim to increase the number of disputes dealt with in communities, whilst strengthening the capacity to keep records of land ownership locally. Claims interests could be registered locally and linked to the formal land registry. This should be combined with local dispute resolution.

PROPOSAL:
to keep local records of land ownership for the people of Ogun State.

In order to increase the capacity to solve and prevent land disputes, stakeholders proposed:

Research on “what works” to resolve land disputes is not easy to find. The literature on land mapping and land registration systems is extensive. The WorldBank, UNHabitat, and research institutes have invested heavily in know-how about so-called “fit for purpose land registration systems”. A good summary of this know-how is a publication by Bob Hendriks, Jaap Zevenbergen, RohanBennett and Danilo Antonio (Pro-poor land administration: Towards practical, coordinated, and scalable recording systems for all,  Land Use Policy 2019, pp. 21-38). Findings from evaluation studies they mention include:

Research on “what works” to resolve land disputes is not easy to find. The literature on land mapping and land registration systems is extensive. The WorldBank, UNHabitat, and research institutes have invested heavily in know-how about so-called “fit for purpose land registration systems”. A good summary of this know-how is a publication by Bob Hendriks, Jaap Zevenbergen, RohanBennett and Danilo Antonio (Pro-poor land administration: Towards practical, coordinated, and scalable recording systems for all,  Land Use Policy 2019, pp. 21-38). Findings from evaluation studies they mention include:

The following elements of the proposal are very much supported by the literature: 

The following suggestions can strengthen the proposal:

4.4 Preventing and resolving family (separation) conflicts

Based on the Nigeria JNS survey, the expected yearly number of divorce/separation disputes in Ogun State is 15,000. Stakeholders proposed increased use of mediation in family disputes, more awareness of prenuptial agreements and an information portal for couples.

PROPOSAL:
Ogun people will have access to improved resolution of family disputes (related to both formal and traditional marriages)

To increase the capacity to solve and prevent family disputes, stakeholders proposed:

Ugochinyelu Anidi (Towards the institutionalization of divorce mediation in Nigeria: a case study of Enugu State, Dissertation University of Cape Town, 2020) provides a critical review of the bottlenecks in the current legal system for divorce and separation in Nigeria. She proposes that a good divorce law should:

She evaluates a divorce mediation process against these criteria and recommends a mandatory mediation process, which she describes in detail. This design could be a starting point for developing a prototype. 

The stakeholders can make use of the growing literature on dispute system design. Three leading books are:

Many training manuals exist that describe the techniques and interventions that mediators can use. For example, UNODC has supported a training manual by the National Judicial Institute for alternative dispute resolution in Nigeria that lists the interventions and skill sets needed. 

Justice services to deal with separation and divorce are described in the earliest codifications. Over the past 50 years, separation and divorce have become a field of interdisciplinary study. Typing in “separation divorce courts” leads to 202,000 publications on Google Scholar. Increasingly, this literature is interdisciplinary; legal research is combined with empirical research by social scientists.

HiiL and others worked on recommendations for justice practitioners for the key dilemmas they identified in their family justice practices. We  followed accepted methods to promote evidence-based practice through guidelines. The quality of the evidence from research was considered. Recommendations (and the literature that has been investigated) include the following topics:

There is little research on marriage contracts or prenuptial agreements that can be relied on. Most of this research focuses on recognition of traditional marriage arrangements in courts. Scholars have not deeply investigated how agreements concluded between spouses can be promoted, with appropriate protection against abuse. Much of the literature focuses on preventing child marriage. A more general approach can be found in a draft for a uniform law on prenuptial agreements in the US. The setting for marriage contracts in Ogun State is likely very different, however, so using this example is not recommended.

The following elements of the proposal by stakeholders are very much supported by the literature: 

The following suggestions can strengthen the proposal:

4.5 Responsive services for domestic violence

On the basis of the Nigeria JNS survey, the expected number of domestic violence problems in Ogun state is 14,000. There is a vast literature on domestic violence worldwide and there are hundreds of studies on domestic violence in Nigeria in particular. O.R. Ashimolowo and G.A. Otufale (Assessment of domestic violence among women in Ogun State, Nigeria, Greener Journal of Social Sciences, 2012) report rather low levels of domestic violence in farm families in rural areas of Ogun State, but domestic violence is often underreported.  A much cited paper on domestic violence prevalence is the one from Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba cultures is Collins Nwabunike and Eric Y. Tenkorang (Domestic and Marital Violence Among Three Ethnic Groups in Nigeria, Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2015, pp. 1–26). The paper notes that women with domineering husbands were significantly more likely to experience physical, sexual, and emotional violence. Similarly, those who thought wife-beating was justified were more likely to experience all three types of violence. 

Another paper by Tenkorang, Sedziafa and Owusu (Does Type and Severity of Violence Affect the Help-Seeking Behaviors of Victims of Intimate Partner Violence in Nigeria? Journal of Family Issues 2017, pp. 2026–2046) finds that about 65% of women did not seek help after experiencing intimate partner violence. Most women who sought help did so from informal sources only (31.3%), compared with formal sources (1.9%). From this literature, a detailed analysis can be made of the groups that are most vulnerable and the social settings in which domestic violence occurs. 

PROPOSAL:
Ogun State people will have fast and effective access to protection in the event of domestic violence.

To increase the capacity to solve and prevent domestic violence problems, stakeholders proposed:

Stakeholders propose a one-stop solution for victims of domestic violence, with interdisciplinary services addressing the different needs of victims and also aimed at prevention and law enforcement. This should be combined with awareness raising to ensure the services reach the target groups. 

The literature on effectiveness of responses to domestic violence is equally abundant. The World Health Organisation, Global strategy for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health (2016–2030), recommends the following approaches:

Many systematic reviews have been made of research on effective interventions for domestic violence. Reviewers complain that outcomes of interventions are not well defined, so the effectiveness of different methods cannot be compared or even monitored. 

Kiani et al (A systematic review: Empowerment interventions to reduce domestic violence? Aggression and Violent Behavior, May–June 2021) find that interventions that empowered women in terms of their economic capability were more effective in reducing violence than those that did not involve an economic perspective. Community interventions reduced the amount of violence and were cost-effective but were time-consuming. 

What types of responses have been found to be effective? A review of policing interventions by Australian researchers shows that police attendance by itself has a major preventive effect on persistent domestic violence. Arresting the perpetrator, bringing charges and punishments do not seem to add much to that effect. Protection orders are moderately effective, in particular when the perpetrator and the victim are not in an intimate relationship (anymore). The review also contains evidence on the effects of victim statements, witness statements and ways to collect evidence on police decisions to follow up on cases. See also this systematic review of Gender Responsive Policing initiatives commissioned by UKAid. In the United States, the use of mandatory arrest and other criminal justice interventions is seriously questioned (see also the book from Leigh Goodmark: Decriminalizing domestic violence: A balanced policy approach to intimate partner violence, 2018). 

An important trend in domestic violence responses is to increase victims’ voice and participation in determining what should happen  (see M.P. Koss, J. White, and E.C. Lopez, Victim voice in reenvisioning responses to sexual and physical violence nationally and internationally, American Psychologist 2017, pp.1019-1030). Victims are likely to want a say in how interventions: 

Ogbe et al (A systematic review of intimate partner violence interventions focused on improving social support and/ mental health outcomes of survivors, PLoS ONE 2020) find that support services that have strong linkages with communities and are community focused seem to have significant effects on mental health outcomes and access to resources for victims. 

A recent publication in the British Medical Journal (2020) reviews the literature on the implementation and effectiveness of the one stop centre model for intimate partner and sexual violence in low- and middle-income countries. This article finds 15 barriers and seven enablers, which seem relevant to the proposal. Three models are discussed: the hospital-based centre, the stand-alone centre, and the NGO-run centre. The main barriers to scaling one-stop-centres are poor connections to justice sector services (the police), staffing (availability of all disciplines in the centres), availability in communities (in particular for the hospital based centres), and financial sustainability. 

The study recommends investigating lower cost alternatives, such as service delivery through primary healthcare providers. Enablers found in a previous study (Manuela Colombini  Colleen Dockerty  Susannah H. Mayhew, Barriers and Facilitators to Integrating Health Service Responses to Intimate Partner Violence in Low‐ and Middle‐Income Countries: A Comparative Health Systems and Service Analysis, Studies in Family Planning 2017, p. 178 ff.) include:

The following elements of the proposal are very much supported by the literature: 

The following suggestions can strengthen the proposal:

3. Increasing fair resolution rates: what works?

3. Increasing fair resolution rates - what works?

Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State / 3. Increasing fair resolution rates – what works?
Photo: Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

What do people with civil justice problems do to resolve their problems? Who do they turn to for legal advice? How do they manage to resolve their problems? And what are some of the best practices that have been proven to resolve civil justice problems? The answers to these questions can inform how the civil justice problems in Ogun State could be effectively tackled. 

3.1 What works to resolve and prevent civil justice problems?

75% of the people with a civil justice problem in Nigeria took action to resolve the problem and 62% of those achieved a complete or partial resolution. The JNS survey data show that few individuals use lawyers, police or other justice sector organisations for advice. Only 22% of people with a civil justice problem sought advice from a formal source, such as the police or a lawyer. On the other hand, 71% of people sought advice from an informal source, especially from friends and relatives.

The data show that most problems are currently resolved through combinations of negotiation, mediation and (formal/informal) adjudication. Between 4% and 5% of people who have a problem reached a court or other tribunal. This is in line with what we find in other countries. When asking people why they decided not to involve a formal court, the most common reasons were a lack of money, the problem was perceived as not serious enough, or because people preferred to turn to a traditional or community leader to resolve the problem.

Family problems: divorce or separation

87% of people going through a divorce or separation seek advice from a trusted person, while only 28% seek advice from an institutional source. People rely primarily on relatives (70%) and friends (40%), and to a lesser extent on religious (26%) and traditional leaders (16%). The most common formal source of advice for divorce/separation is a lawyer (11%).

Family problems: domestic violence

76% of people experiencing domestic violence seek advice from a trusted, while only 16% seek advice from an institutional source. People rely primarily on relatives (54%) and friends (38%), and to a lesser extent on religious (15%) and traditional leaders (10%). The most common formal source of advice for domestic violence is the police (7%).

Land problems

84% of Nigerians with a land problem seek advice from a trusted person, while only 46% seek advice from an institutional source. The most popular trusted persons are relatives (47%), friends (39%) and community or traditional leaders (32%). The most popular institutional sources for legal advice are lawyers (27%), the police (13%), and local public authorities (7%).

Neighbour disputes

68% of Nigerians with a neighbour dispute seek advice from a trusted person, while only 15% seek advice from an institutional source. The most popular trusted persons are friends (45%), neighbours (25%), and relatives (23%). The most popular institutional sources for legal advice are the police (6%), lawyers (6%), and local public authorities (3%), but very few people use these providers for advice.

Family problems: divorce or separation

People going through a divorce or separation mainly managed to resolve this through an official court (25%) or public authority (23%). This is likely because of the legalistic nature of a divorce. 

Based on a literature research of potential interventions to resolve family problems, HiiL has identified eight interventions that are most common in addressing family problems. For each of these interventions, a set of best practices for resolving family problems has been studied. These evidence-based practices are mostly aimed at justice practitioners, such as mediators or community leaders, and together provide a guideline on how best to prevent and resolve family problems. More information can be found on the family justice page of the HiiL dashboard.

Family problems: domestic violence

People experiencing domestic violence who said they had resolved this, mostly did so by talking to the other party directly (17%) or with a mediator (20%), or the problem sorted itself out (17%). None of the domestic violence problems were resolved in a court.

Based on a literature research of potential interventions to resolve family problems, HiiL has identified eight interventions that are most common in addressing family problems. For each of these interventions, a set of best practices for resolving family problems has been studied. These evidence-based practices are mostly aimed at justice practitioners, such as mediators or community leaders, and together provide a guideline on how best to prevent and resolve family problems. More information can be found on the family justice page of the HiiL dashboard.

Land problems

Most people who managed to resolve their land problem achieved this through a court decision (24%). This is considerably higher than for other civil justice problems, but it still means three out of four land problems are resolved outside official courts or tribunals. Other ways land problems are resolved is through mediation (17%), a decision from a public authority (15%), and a decision from an informal forum (13%). In only 3% of the cases did the problem sort itself out.

Based on literature research of potential interventions to resolve land problems, HiiL identified eight interventions that are most common in addressing land disputes. For each of these interventions, a set of best practices for resolving land problems has been studied. These evidence-based practices are mostly aimed at justice practitioners, such as mediators or community leaders, and together provide a guideline on how best to prevent and resolve land disputes. More information can be found on the land justice page of the HiiL dashboard.

Neighbour disputes

Most people who managed to resolve their neighbour dispute talked to the other party directly (28%) or with a mediator (24%). This means more than half of all resolved neighbour disputes were resolved by talking to the other party. Only 4% of resolved neighbour disputes were eventually resolved in a formal court.

For different types of problems, HiiL has developed a set of evidence-based best practices for resolving them. A guideline for preventing and resolving neighbour disputes is currently being developed and will become available on the HiiL dashboard.

Interviewed experts supported the finding about the lack of money, but not so much the other reasons mentioned for not using a formal court. When asked about the most important barriers for people trying to resolve their civil justice problems in Ogun State, eight out of twelve experts mentioned the high costs of seeking justice. As one expert from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment explained:

They often say “o ma na mi l’owo” (It will be expensive). Why should I pay a lawyer so much money? That’s the general perception even among the enlightened.

High costs associated with court procedures may form a barrier, because people do not necessarily believe they will receive the outcome they want. As one expert explained, many people are afraid to go to court and prefer to resolve their problem their own way, because they are afraid it will not lead to a favourable result. It is for this reason this expert, and others as well, always encourage the use of ADR or the multi-door courthouse, as it “will create affection rather than friction.”

Five experts also highlighted the problem of long procedures and a lack of awareness of rights and opportunities. The former is clearly linked to the problem of high costs, as the Director of the Citizens Right Department noted: 

The longer the matter stays in the court, the more expensive it becomes (service fees, filling fees, lawyer’s fees).

It is noticeable that high costs and slow procedures were exclusively discussed in relation to court procedures. Many experts believed ADR in general, and the Ogun State multi-door courthouse in particular, were amongst the most promising resolution mechanisms for civil justice problems in Ogun State. However, it was generally felt that either there is a lack of ADR mechanisms available in Ogun State (3 times) or that not enough people were aware of their rights and opportunities (5 times). As the Senior Advocate of Nigeria explained:

I think when there are ADR centers, it would be much easier to address the other barriers raised. There is an urgent need for ADR in Ogun State.

Another expert argued it was more about awareness:

The main thing is awareness. We need to enlighten more people about the use of ADR.

According to some of the experts, education, information and case examples in local languages (Yoruba) is crucial to make sure people know about the possibilities that exist for addressing disputes.

Finally, some of the other barriers mentioned by experts were corruption and abuse of power, lack of enforcement and compliance of decisions (4 times), and a lack of trust in the competence of officials (3 times).

We have not found data on how SMEs and large companies resolve conflicts in Nigeria or in Ogun State. It is likely, however, that they also use combinations of negotiation, mediation and adjudication.

The stakeholders interviewed suggested procedures at courts may be slow, formal and expensive. This is in line with only 10% of resolutions being achieved by courts or similar tribunals according to survey participants in Nigeria. 

These data suggest a possible way forward for improvements. Integrating negotiation, mediation, settlement and adjudication into civil justice may lead to improved procedures that can increase resolution rates.

Research on dispute system design and effective conflict resolution is ongoing, as is research on procedural justice and effective court procedures. One recommendation from international access to justice research is to focus on outcomes. Questions to guide this can be: what kind of sustainable solutions do people need for land grabbing or other types of justice problem? What are the elements of fair, sustainable peace between these people? What does a great settlement for such a problem look like?

Once the elements of fair and effective outcomes are clearer, progress towards these outcomes can be monitored. Procedures can be improved in such a way that they are more likely to achieve these outcomes.

2. Capacity needed

2. Capacity needed

What are the most pressing civil justice problems in Ogun State for individuals, small and medium-sized enterprises, and large businesses? What is the impact of these problems? Who are the vulnerable groups? And to what extent are problems resolved? The answers to these questions inform the civil justice capacity needed in Ogun State. Courts, legal services and informal justice services will have to provide this capacity. Quantifying the impact of civil justice problems can help make the case for creating this capacity.

2.1 Most pressing civil justice problems for individuals, SMEs, and large businesses

During the enrolment interviews for the Civil Justice Transformation Lab, stakeholders raised land conflicts, neighbour conflicts, and family conflicts as the most pressing justice needs in Ogun State. As we will see below, the data indicate that the three most common civil justice problems people experience in all of Nigeria are neighbour problems, money problems and land problems. Family conflicts are less frequent and may have more impact on people. The interviews suggested that people from outside the state may come to Ogun State for divorce petitions in courts.

For Individuals

Most Nigerians see themselves facing civil justice problems: 60% of Nigerians experience one or more civil justice problems in the previous four years.

These are serious problems: 75% of those experiencing one or more legal problems (or 55% of all Nigerians) indicated that their most serious problem was a civil justice problem.

Many people experience more than one civil justice problem. On average, people who report at least one civil justice problem experience 1.34 of these problems.

The most frequent serious civil justice problems are related to neighbours and money, each accounting for about 20% of the most serious civil justice problems. Other common civil justice problems include disputes over land, employment, housing, and family. Business-related and consumer problems are in the top ten of the most common problems but occur less frequently. Based on input from the stakeholders prior to, and during the stakeholder dialogues, it is clear that land problems in particular constitute a significant challenge in Ogun State. 

Civil justice problems often have a serious impact on people’s lives, with numerous negative consequences. The graph below shows the most common negative consequences people experience as a result of the different civil justice problems.

75% of people whose most serious problem was a civil justice problem took action to resolve this problem. Almost half of these people were not able to resolve their problem. 38% of people had not (yet) resolved their problem, including 14% of people who had completely abandoned their problem. People with lower incomes are especially unlikely to resolve their civil justice problem.

For small and medium-sized enterprises

What are the most pressing civil justice problems for SMEs? The graph on page 7 suggests that the surveyed individuals have 16,000 contractual business disputes every year. This may underestimate the number of problems experienced by medium-sized enterprises. 5,000 individuals have problems with licenses or permits. 27,000 have other problems. There is little research on the legal problems experienced by SMEs\ in Ogun State or Nigeria that can explain what is in this “other” category. The only study HiiL has conducted in this area was in a vastly different country: Ukraine1. It is therefore unclear to what extent the findings of that study are also valid in Ogun State. The JNS survey among SMEs in Ukraine found that the most common problems are:
  1. Problems related to trade disputes with suppliers and clients (often an insolvent supplier or client, or disputes over contracts);
  2. Corporate fraud (theft of company property and raiding, the illegal seizure of property or equipment owned by a business, a problem particular for Ukraine);
  3. Problems related to business premises (troubles with land acquisition, registration, transfer, lease, or tenure).
Only 27% of the problems were resolved at the time of the survey. To resolve existing legal problems, SMEs in Ukraine mostly negotiate directly with the other party in the dispute. Lawyers are usually involved when dealing with regulatory compliance or diverse issues that emerge around company registration, legal status, and ownership. Complaints to administrative authorities or to judicial bodies are more often filed in situations of fraud (raiding) and difficulties with enforcement of contracts and previous decisions

2.2 Capacity needed for resolving civil justice problems

The graphs below show additional data about the most pressing civil justice problems in Nigeria. By selecting the different problem categories in the top right corner, it is possible to see the specific data for each problem category. The text below graphs explains these data. Scroll right or left to see the relevant explanation for the different problem categories. The graph below shows for each problem category the most common types of disputes in Nigeria. The number behind each bar indicates an estimate of how often the problem occurs on an annual basis in Ogun State. This is estimated by applying the percentage of people in the JNS survey who experienced this problem to the number of people of working age in Ogun State (57% of 7.1 million people)2. This number is thus in many ways a very rough estimate based on many untested assumptions and should be interpreted carefully. However, it gives an indication of the capacity needed in the Ogun State civil justice system.

Family problems

Divorce or separation and domestic violence are the most prevalent family problems. These are also the problems stakeholders decided to focus on in the strategy. Both can be expected to occur more than 15.000 times per year in Ogun State. In total, more than 80.000 family problems can be expected to occur in Ogun State every year.

Land problems

Disputes over boundaries and disputes over land titles are the most common land problems, followed by disputes over use of land and land grabbing. In total, more than 100,000 land problems can be expected to occur in Ogun State every year.   

Neighbour disputes

The most common neighbour disputes involve regular and excessive noise, threats, harassment or violence, children causing disorder, and disputes related to animals. In total, almost 250,000 neighbour problems can be expected to occur in Ogun State every year.

Family problems

Family problems, including both divorce/separation and domestic violence, are more common among women than among men. The only difference between age categories is that people above 65 experience fewer family problems than younger people.

The graph below shows the relative prevalence of the civil justice problems among different age groups and gender.

Land problems

Land problems are not equally distributed among the population. They are more common among men than among women. They are also considerably more common among older people than among young people.

Neighbour disputes

Neighbour disputes are not equally distributed among the population. They are more common among women than among men. Younger people experience neighbour problems more frequently than older people.

Civil justice problems often have a serious impact on people’s lives, with numerous negative consequences. The graph below shows the most common negative consequences people experience as a result of the different civil justice problems.

Family problems

The average impact score for divorce/separation on a score from 1 (hardly affected me negatively) to 5 (the negative effect was severe) is 3.4. This is slightly higher than the average for all civil justice problems in Nigeria (3.22). For domestic violence it is 3.2. 

93% of people going through divorce/separation and 98% of people experiencing domestic violence experience negative consequences because of their problems. The most common consequence is loss of time, followed by loss of income and stress-related illnesses. 20% of people with land problems report experiencing violence against them.

Land problems

The average impact score for land problems on a score from 1 (hardly affected me negatively) to 5 (the negative effect was severe) is 3.35. This is slightly higher than the average for all civil justice problems in Nigeria (3.22).

86% of people experience negative consequences because of their land problem. The most common consequence is loss of time, followed by loss of income and stress-related illnesses. 20% of people with land problems report experiencing violence against them.

Neighbour disputes

The average impact score for neighbour problems on a score from 1 (hardly affected me negatively) to 5 (the negative effect was severe) is 3.32. This is slightly higher than the average for all civil justice problems in Nigeria (3.22).

82% of people experience negative consequences because of their neighbour problem. The most common consequences are problems with relationships, loss of time, and stress-related illnesses.

Family problems: divorce or separation

77% of people going through a divorce or separation took action to resolve their problem. This is slightly higher than the average for civil justice problems in Nigeria (75%). 48% of people manage to resolve their problem completely or partially. Most of these people found the resolution fair. In the end, 37% of people whose most serious problem was a divorce or separation received a fair resolution. This means 63% of people are looking for more effective and fair solutions.

The justice gap is the percentage of problems people experience that are resolved in a fair matter. The graph below shows for each civil justice problem the percentage of people who took action to resolve it, the percentage of people who managed to resolve it, and the percentage of people who considered these resolutions fair. It shows exactly in what stages of the dispute resolution process the justice gap materialises. 

Family problems: domestic violence

66% of people experiencing domestic violence took action to resolve their problem. This is equal to the average for civil justice problems in Nigeria (75%). 38% of people manage to resolve their problem completely or partially. Most of these people found the resolution fair. In the end, 35% of people whose most serious problem was domestic violence received a fair resolution. This means 65% of people experiencing domestic violence are looking for more effective and fair solutions.

Land problems

88% of people with land problems take action to resolve their problem. This is higher than the average for civil justice problems in Nigeria (75%). 

50% of people managed to resolve their land problem completely or partially. Most of these people found the resolution fair. In the end, 44% of people whose most serious problem was a land problem received a fair resolution. This means 56% of people with land problems are looking for more effective and fair solutions.

Neighbour disputes

75% of people with neighbour disputes took action to resolve their problem. This is equal to the average for civil justice problems in Nigeria (75%). 

54% of people manage to resolve their problem completely or partially. Most of these people found the resolution fair. In the end, 37% of people whose most serious problem was a neighbour problem received a fair resolution. This means 63% of people with neighbour problems are looking for more effective and fair solutions.

Finally, the graph below shows how long it took for people to resolve a problem from the moment when they first took action to resolve it. The data is divided between problems that have been resolved in court and problems that have been resolved otherwise.

Family problems

Because the numbers for divorce and domestic violence become too low in our dataset to draw meaningful conclusions, we do not show them individually. On average, people who managed to resolve their family problem did so 24 weeks after they first took action, so faster than people with land problems (31 weeks) but slower than people with neighbour disputes (15 weeks). However, there are big differences between individuals, with the range going from problems that are resolved the same day to problems that are resolved after more than four years.

There are no significant differences between people who resolved their problem in court and people who resolved their problems in another manner, but keep in mind that the number of people who went to court is very low. 

Land problems

People who managed to resolve their land problem generally did so 31 weeks after they first took action, almost twice as long as for neighbour disputes. However, there are big differences between individuals, with the range going from problems that are resolved the same day to problems that are resolved after more than three years.

People who went to court needed a lot more time to resolve their land problem (41 weeks on average) than people who resolved their land problem in other ways (28 weeks). Whereas land problems resolved in other ways are often resolved within the first thirty days after taking action, land problems resolved by a court decision tend to take more often between 6 and 12 months. 

Neighbour disputes

On average, people who managed to resolve their neighbour dispute did so 15 weeks after they first took action. However, there are big differences between individuals, with the range going from problems that are resolved the same day to problems that are resolved after more than three years. 

There are no significant differences between people who resolved their problem in court and people who resolved their problems in another manner,  but keep in mind that the number of people who went to court is very low.

1. Supporting Civil Justice Transformation Dialogues and Strategy

1. Supporting Civil Justice Transformation Dialogues and Strategy

Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State / 1. Supporting Civil Justice Transformation Dialogues and Strategy

1.1. This report

Between January and March 2021, the Ogun State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Gbolahan Adeniran, convened 25 distinguished justice leaders in the state’s first Civil Justice Transformation Lab. Through a series of three stakeholder dialogues, the aim was to deliver a vision on civil justice in Ogun State whereby people can safely live, work, and do business. HiiL was asked to assist in this process and identify the prevalence of civil justice problems and the bottlenecks in the administration of civil justice for businesses and individuals in Ogun State.

During the stakeholder dialogues, four goals and the Gamechanging Pathways to achieving them were outlined, always keeping the people of Ogun State and the outcomes they need at the centre. These goals and their pathways have been documented in a strategy document for civil justice transformation in Ogun State

This report supports the civil justice transformation strategy in Ogun State. It provides relevant data and knowledge to support the strategy developed during the stakeholder dialogues. It has been developed along the transformation lab process, informing and subsequently being informed by the different stakeholder dialogues. The final result is a Deep Dive report into civil justice transformation in Ogun State, based on a combination of stakeholders’ ideas, knowledge, and expertise, and research conducted by HiiL. For each of the four goals and pathways formulated by the justice leaders, the report provides data on the expected annual number of problems that need resolutions, how people go about resolving them and what works, and the main enablers and obstacles to implementing the pathways identified to achieve the goals.

1.2 Methodology

This report is based on a combination of different data sources to create a nuanced and in-depth picture of civil justice in Ogun State.

Deep Dive Ogun Report – Summary

Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State, Nigeria

Supporting data and know-how

April, 2021

Photo: Omoeko Media, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Summary

This Deep Dive Report accompanies the Strategy Document, Civil Justice Transformation in Ogun State, published in April 2021. Between January and March 2021, the Ogun State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Gbolahan Adeniran, convened 25 distinguished justice leaders in the state’s first Civil Justice Transformation Lab. The aim of this process was to deliver a vision on civil justice in Ogun State whereby people can safely live, work and do business. 

During these months, four Civil Justice Transformation Goals and three Gamechanging Pathways to achieving them were outlined, always keeping the people of Ogun and the outcomes they need at the centre. The four goals are related to land problems, neighbour problems, and family problems (divorce/separation and domestic violence). This report has been developed along the transformation lab process, informing and subsequently being informed by the different stakeholder dialogues. It contains data on justice needs and research on “what works”. 

For each of the goals, and following the pathways set out by the stakeholders, the HiiL research team collected the following relevant data:

The conclusion wraps up these different parts of the report, and highlights that the findings generally support the pathways that the stakeholders developed, while providing anchor points for the next steps towards implementation (Chapter 6). 

Neighbour problems

In Ogun State, 250,000 neighbour disputes can be expected every year. For such disputes, community justice services using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) are recommended, which is fully in line with the pathways set out by the stakeholders. 

This report refers to a number of models for local dispute resolution services that can be considered. One important issue identified by the stakeholders was how to entice disputants to use such services. Programmes in other countries have discovered a number of good practices for inviting the other party to the dispute. The report also shows how other jurisdictions have dealt with conflicts about noise and identified the particular forms of mediation that work for neighbour disputes. Another issue brought up by the stakeholders was the one of enforcement. Several ways to improve compliance with (negotiated) decisions have been tried and tested. Linking informal justice in communities to a supervisory role of the courts can be done in different ways.  During the implementation phase, this know-how can inform the design of standardised “treatments” for the many neighbour disputes that are likely to occur in Ogun State.

Land problems

In Ogun State, the yearly expected number of land disputes is at least 100,000. Disputes over boundaries/access, land titles/ownership, use of land and land grabbing are most frequent. Standardising the interventions to resolve land disputes is very much supported by the literature. Fit for purpose land registration is a tested approach, with many best practices identified. Local record keeping, and solving land disputes locally, is recommended.  

We cite examples of similar programmes. Although the costs of such programmes are substantial, they offer a pragmatic alternative to centralised land registration systems. These programmes can provide adequate protection to people living on the land, whilst balancing the interests of investors and government agencies. Interesting best practices include the  use of ‘halfway-documents’, dialogues and support with filling out standard forms by neutral persons. The literature recommends affordable and consistent record keeping of all tenure forms, locally grounded land records in close proximity to communities and reflecting the situation on the ground. Besides recommending alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, there are also many findings about the way this can be organised, informed by (contradicting) evidence and preserving future relationships between disputing parties.

Family problems: divorce or separation

Family disputes in Ogun State are mostly related to divorce and separation. The number of divorce cases going to Ogun State courts is in the hundreds, whereas 15,000 disputes related to divorces and separation can be expected every year, based on survey data. Both formal marriages and informal family relationships are often dissolved. 

This report confirms the need for specialised family justice services. It summarises high quality studies, including valuable ones conducted by Nigerian researchers. One study details nine outcomes of “good divorce law,” such as preserving the sanctity of marriage and the stability of the family; saving marriages that are salvable; reducing the bitterness associated with divorce; and protection for the economically weaker spouse, victims of domestic violence and the children of the marriage. 

Many international good practices around “dispute system design” are described, including the tendency towards a mandatory mediation process. For mediation, guides and training manuals list the techniques and interventions that can be used, which have already been adapted to the Nigerian context. HiiL and others worked on recommendations for justice practitioners for the key dilemmas they identified in their family justice practices. When implementing local justice services for separation and divorce, a sound financial and organisational model will be needed. In this way, justice services to families can be of good and consistent quality. 

Family problems: domestic violence

On the basis of the Nigeria JNS survey, the expected yearly number of domestic violence problems in Ogun state is 15,000. But domestic violence is likely to be underreported. The Deep Dive Report provides access to the vast literature on domestic violence worldwide. There are hundreds of studies on domestic violence in Nigeria in particular.

A one stop domestic violence response has been implemented in quite a few settings. A recent literature review lists the barriers and enablers of setting up such services in lower and middle income countries. Increasing voice and participation in the design of responses is a recurring theme. We summarise some of the lessons learned and best practices developed by domestic violence practitioners. One problem to address is the usage rate of such services. Another issue prominent in the literature is the need to finetune the use of criminal justice interventions. Finally, the effectiveness of different forms of therapy (for victims, perpetrators, couples) needs to be considered when implementing these services.