Three Law students of University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) beat other contestants to come first in an Arbitration Moot Competition in Kenya. SURAJUDEEN ALABEDE (200-Level GEOGRAPHY) and MURITALA HAMEED (200-Level MASS COMMUNICATION, UNILORIN) report.

In faraway Nairobi, Kenya, they showed the stuff they are made of. They beat others from various parts of West Africa to win the First Arbitration moot competition for university students.

The Nigerian representatives from the University of Ilorin(UNILORIN) and Delta State University (DELSU) shone like stars the way they tackled questions.

They were well prepared for the contest.Last April, they were to go to Vienna, Austria, for the Vis International Arbitration moot contest.

They could not make the trip, even though they had been groomed by the Centre for International Arbitration. Reason: they were denied visa by the Australian Embassy, which said it was not convinced they would return home after the contest.

The students took the disappointment in their stride and waited for their time, which came when they participated in the Kenya contest.
Reliving their experience with the Austrians, one of the students said the embassy officials even claimed that "our parents were not financially capable to send us on such trip.”

After the disappointment, the students approached the Regional Arbitration Centre to participate in the competition for African universities in Kenya organised by the body.

The event took place from August 8 to 11 at the Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya.

The Nigerian contested against students from the University of Nairobi, Kenya; University of Uganda, University of Pretoria, South Africa, and Burkina Faso University.

The contestants were expected to submit memorials for the claimant and respondent for a hypothetical case set by the centre. Schools were graded on the memorials before oral argument by representatives of participating universities.

The final round was witnessed by personalities from Africa and beyond, including the father of Arbitration Law in Africa, Norman Mururu; another diplomat of Arbitration in Africa, Kariuki Muigua; Justice Kantai of the Kenyan Federal High Court; Hon Amos Wako, Attorney-General of Kenya; Wanjuki Muchemi, Solicitor-General of Kenya and Dr Chijioke Wigwe, Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya.

The panel of judges comprised Dr. Onyema Emilia, a Law lecturer in the School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London; Mr. Anire Kanyi, a Nigerian lawyer and solicitor in England and Wales and Mr Tim Anago, a lawyer with Abuja Multidoor Court House, who is also affiliated to the United States Department of Justice. Journalists and students from various universities also witnessed the final round of the competition.

In her speech, the Director of the centre, Mrs Eunice Odiri, said the body is an international arbitration organisation established in Nigeria by Asian-Africa Legal Consultative Organisation to acquaint students with the practice of arbitration and to sharpen the advocacy prowess of participants.

According to her, international commercial arbitration is an essential skill required by modern global economy to attract foreign investments, boost commercial transactions and generally promote trade and investment in the economic life of a country.

“Equipping students with the necessary skills required in arbitration right from university would put the students in a helpful position to face the challenges of the competitive global market; whether in their professional calling or in commercial and investment transactions,” she said.

The UNILORIN students were declared winners after scoring more points than their opponents. The students were presented with Hewlett Packard laptops, certificates and conference bags, with materials on arbitration. A cocktail was organised for them after the event.

Whyte told CAMPUSLIFE that the competition was a launch pad for him. “I am very happy because we put much effort in this competition and God has seen us through. I thank God and my coach, my parents, the entire members of the Moot and Debate Society of my faculty and everyone, especially the dean of UNILORIN Law Faculty", he said.

Akanbi gave thanks to God and the UNILORIN management for the support they received during the competition.

He said: "This is the first international competition I coordinated since my career as a lecturer in UNILORIN. I am proud to be the coach of the champions of Africa."

The participants were also taken on a tour to Kenya National Park, the Tourist Park, the Central Market and the popular Kenyan restaurant, Carnivore, where the students tasted the meat of 10 animals.