Traditional leaders in Nigeria ©

Justice for All

September 2019

The Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) Programme is working to strengthen the capacity of traditional rulers in alternative dispute resolution. As at July 2019, the programme has supported the training of 2,111 traditional rulers from 12 emirates in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

This initiative is contributing to enhanced public confidence in the traditional justice system in northeastern Nigeria. Beneficiary feedback indicates that there is growing confidence, both among the trained traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the justice system, on their capacity to resolve disputes successfully. Lower level traditional rulers (ward and village heads) have become more effective in resolving disputes, which has helped reduce the case load at the district level. 

Another significant improvement is the way traditional rulers are now equipped to resolve disputes between members of their community from different religious backgrounds. For example, in the Bachama Traditional Council of Adamawa state - predominantly Christian - traditional rulers reported the successful resolution of disputes among Christian and Muslim community members. This is significant because in the past, the lack of capacity and confidence in dealing with persons from different religious backgrounds affected responses, increased misunderstandings, and boosted inter-religious conflicts in the area. 

An early success recorded was the intervention of a traditional ruler who prevented inter religious violence amongst young people in his community. Some Christian youths were trying to stop a Muslim boy from marrying a Christian girl. The youths accosted the young Muslim boy who visited the Christian girl and destroyed his motorcycle. Sensing the risk of reprisals, the village head intervened and resolved the dispute by getting the consent of both parents for the courtship to continue.

‘With what we have learned from the training, we have been able to address the negative mentality of people and encouraged them to have cordial relations with their neighbours from other ethnic and religious backgrounds.’ Ishaya Talla, Village head, Bollere, Kwah District, Lamorde LGA, Adamawa state