The Council of Legal Education has been the institution vested with the rights and responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession. This means that they in turn run the Nigerian Law School. And as we speak, there is currently friction between Students of the Nigerian Law School and the Council of Legal Education.
Bar aspirants resumed the Nigerian Law School early last year. About 8s weeks into the 10-month program, the schools across the nation had to be shut down due to the recent outbreak of COVID. So students have been home for months although though lectures went on skeletally for a while.
However, there was deafening silence for a while. No update about the reopening of the campus. Only recently, a notice was put up finally setting the resumption date on the 4th of January, 2021. Many students were overjoyed. That joy, however, was short-lived as a new notice was put up postponing the already fixed resumption date indefinitely due to the second wave of COVID 19 across the country.
What is even perhaps more heart wrenching is that there’s a long queue of equally eager applicants who are waiting to get into the Nigerian Law School and cannot because the current aspirants to the bar haven’t completed their time. And due to the stringent terms of the Nigerian Law School, they might not even be able to get in after the current aspirants conclude with their studies. Why?
So the Council of Legal Education grants to each university a quota of the number of students to send to the Law School each year. And that number differs from University to University. For instance, Obafemi Awolowo University has been granted a slot to send 250 students to the Nigerian Law School each year. But Obafemi Awolowo University admits over 300 each session and has a list of over 350 persons waiting to go the Law School. So for those in waiting, many would have to wait some more.
The Nigerian Law School operates a peculiar curriculum meaning part of the requirements for the completion of the degree is a compulsory court attachment and externship that is done in the middle of the Law School Program.
Aspirants at the bar would be posted to states of their choice for a couple of months where they would be granted the opportunity to have practical knowledge of the field they’ve chosen. After the completion of this, they return to their various campuses, hold lectures for a couple of weeks, and then prepare for exams.
Now if the students were able to even run the full curriculum virtually, it leaves the court attachment and externship which is compulsory. A lot of persons feel the Nigerian Law School should have even considered online lectures in the first place. This is due to the rigorous nature of the school. I, however, hold the opinion that desperate times called for even more desperate measures and they were right to explore that option.
The Aspirants to the Bar are currently crying for help. Why would they have to spend a year and counting a Bachelor of Law degree that ought to take 10 months and what is even more heartbreaking is that they haven’t even gotten any real work done?
What can the Council of Legal Education do?
To be candid, there has to be some better way of getting students to resume. The Council of Legal Education just needs to find a way around it and innovate. What prevents the Nigerian Law School from holding the rest of its classes (if any) Online and conducting exams that way too? After, asking students to proceed on Externship and Court Attachments to Law Firms and Courts closest to them?
- Take Precautions
Seems to us like there’s more to the opening of the Nigerian Law School Campuses than meets the eye or the explanation that’s being offered. While the first wave of COVID fizzled out, why weren’t campuses opened again for students? NYSC Camps opened. Even Private Universities resumed.
So why drag their feet. Now that the second wave of COVID has begun, let students resume. They would be locked in for lectures, so it would reduce the entry and exit into the campus. Let each campus take necessary precautions and ensure students are tested periodically for the virus.
I also suggest that as a matter of urgency, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Olumide Apata intervenes in this budding crisis. His administration has been hailed as being youth-focused as it was the young lawyers of the NBA that formed a large pool of his electorate. Though he might not be able to order the Council of Legal Education to resume lectures, he should be able to throw his weight around and influence their resumption.