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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 December 2019
How the interface of state law and indigenous market laws contributes to peacebuilding in Nigeria is an unexplored question that demands attention. First, law, human security and peace are interrelated through the cultural ideas and norms that inform human behaviour. Second, the co-existence of normative orders in Africa favours a top-down approach that inadequately acknowledges indigenous law, neglects its economic, cultural and religious influences, and thereby affects human security. Based on key informant interviews, focus group discussions and observation of markets in southern Nigeria, this article finds that although indigenous market laws are much altered, their foundational values inform market union constitutions, bye-laws and dispute resolution mechanisms. Union officials draft these laws with the assistance of Western-trained legal practitioners and apply them in close co-operation with state organs, who recognize market tribunals as quasi-judicial bodies. The article urges policy attention on the manner people adapt indigenous market laws to socio-economic changes.
Senior lecturer, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. I wrote this article as a guest researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden, from April to June 2018. I acknowledge the financial assistance of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where I was a URC postdoctoral fellow at that time.
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109 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
111 Interview with Comrade Lucky Otu, president of the Ogbudu Market Traders’ Association, Delta State, 14 February 2017.
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113 Chukwuemeka Azubike, chair of the Enyimba Line Traders’ Association, Aba, related an intriguing system of registration: disputants pay a ₦5000 fee each and the losing party forfeits this sum. The winning party may “settle” members of the peace committee with any amount he deems fit from the refund.
114 Focus group discussion in Onitsha on 21 February 2017. Views on the peace committee were expressed by its chair, Uche Eze, chief whip, Uzoma Nwadike, and a trader, Chinekebuka K. Obichie.
115 Sec 4 of the OMMTA bye-laws titled “Under peace committee”.
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