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Crime/Justice

Re-Imagining Legal Education In Nigeria

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I am delighted to have been invited to be a part of this Summit. I thank the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata, for inviting me, and the Proprietor of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, CON, OFR, SAN, and the entire Management of Afe Babalola University, for collaborating with the NBA to deliver this great Summit, and for hosting the Summit.
I especially commend the leadership and membership of the Nigerian Bar Association for putting together a summit of this nature at such an auspicious time, aimed to assist in advancing legal education in Nigeria. As we all are aware, the NBA is a major stakeholder in the legal education project in Nigeria. First, and pursuant to the provisions of section 2(1) (e) and (f) of Legal Education (Consolidation) Act, Cap L10 LFN 2004, the NBA President and 15 other NBA representatives are members of Council of Legal Education. Second, by virtue of Article 3 of the NBA Constitution, 2015, among the major objectives of the Nigerian Bar Association are promotion and advancement of Legal Education, Continuing Legal Education, Advocacy and Jurisprudence, and Promotion of co-operation between the NBA and other National Institutions. Such national institutions include the Council of Legal Education/Nigerian Law School, Universities and institutions engaged in legal education of aspirants to the Nigerian Bar. Third, most, if not all, law students in Nigeria will end up as Legal Practitioners and as such members of the NBA and of the legal profession in Nigeria; all members of the Bar and the Bench were at one time or another law students. By virtue of section 4(1)(a) of the NBA Constitution, all persons called to the Nigerian Bar and duly enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria as legal practitioners are members of the NBA. Accordingly, progress or otherwise in legal education directly impacts the legal profession. Whatever happens in the legal education sector should be of serious interest to the NBA because failure in the former would seriously hinder progress, effectiveness and continued relevance of the latter in the country.
Furthermore, under under Rule 11 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners in Nigeria, the NBA has some roles to play in the requirement of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education in the profession. Continuing Legal Education is an offshoot of the legal training of aspirants to the bar. Moreover, the NBA President is next to the Attorney-General of the Federation in the leader ship hierarchy of the Nigerian Bar, which comprises former law students, all Law Teachers, heads of the Council of Legal education, the Nigerian law School, the various Law Faculties in Nigeria, the heads of other law legal education training institutions in Nigeria. Finally, the NBA President in the absence of a substantive Chairman of the Council of Legal Education plays the role of the Acting Chairman. There is therefore no doubt that the NBA, being a critical stakeholder in the legal education project in Nigeria, has the locus to organise a summit of this nature.
Legal education which comprises in the education of individuals in the principles, practices, and theory of law, is dynamic and all-encompassing, cutting across several jurisdictions, concepts, processes and stages, the overall aim being that of serving society liberally by imparting general and cultural education to law students to make them good law-abiding citizens, as well as instilling in them the significance and relevance of constitutional democratic culture. According to Harvard Law School’s Committee of Legal Education, legal education lays emphasis on training men for the legal profession, and providing centers where scholars might contribute to an understanding of law and government and participate creatively in growth and improvement of law, ethics and governance. To this end, legal education in the 21st century must be one that effectively responds to the economical, technological, and societal shifts that happen at an ever-increasing pace. It must be an education that sets children up to succeed in a world where more than half of the jobs they will have over their careers do not even exist yet (Sara Hallerman, Colon Lewis, and Brad Dresbach). Finally, as recommended by the New Teaching Curriculum in the Nigerian Law School, 21st century legal education in Nigeria is also aimed at producing lawyers who would be in a position to measure up to contemporary benchmarks and international best practices in the legal profession.
I am aware of the efforts so far made by the Council of Legal Education, and the Management and Teachers of the Nigerian Law School, as well as by past and current NBA leaderships towards encouraging a strong partnership between the Bar and the Council of Legal Education/Nigerian Law School in the practical training of aspirants to the Nigerian Bar with a view to meeting the needs of the 21st century. I recognize that a lot of progress has been made in this respect. I salute Law Teachers in the Law School, in the various law faculties and other other institutions that offer legal education in Nigeria. In their individual and collective capacities, Law Teachers in Nigeria have contributed towards the academic, professional and personal development of lawyers and law practice in Nigeria. However, a lot still needs to be done. Legal education needs to continually and consistently develop in order to remain relevant to the needs of a dynamic society. There is need for continuous and concerted efforts by all stakeholders at strengthening existing partnerships and collaboration with a view to improving on the quality of legal education. There is also a need for reorientation in our profession and there is no better place for this to start, than from the foundation, which is our legal education. This is why I consider this summit timely and the theme apt: “Re-Imagining Legal Education In Nigeria”.
Further, with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and following the devastating and dislocating aftermaths of the pandemic, diverse opinions on the concept of legal education have emerged. The pandemic stretched its tentacles into diverse facets of life; the educational sector (including legal education) being among the most-hard-hit; the pandemic exposed many weaknesses of existing systems, processes and procedures in legal education, especially in developing segments of the worlds, of which Nigeria is a part. As a form of response to the upshots of the pandemic, stakeholders in education began to explore new, alternative, and dynamic means of teaching and learning to avoid a repeat of the quagmire the restriction occasioned by Covid-19 had caused the world. The legal education sector, managers and stakeholders have no choice than to begin to explore new concepts, more dynamic, pragmatic and responsive teaching and learning methods and systems, In summary, reform, reinvention and re-imaginng have become necessary to enable legal education in Nigeria key fully into what is now regarded all over the world as the “new normal”. In November 2021, the Federal Republic of Ghana held a summit of this nature under them: “The Future of Legal Education in Ghana” and came up with a communique, which is expected to be followed up with necessary reforms to realise the objectives of the summit.
The above said, a very critical development in the legal education sector which this summit should pay serious and elaborate attention to is the recent development in respect of the Nigerian Law School. It should be noted that the Nigerian Law School currently has seven campuses. However, in an unprecedented move, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recently passed a Bill to establish six additional Campuses of Nigerian Law School. The decision of the Senate completely brushed aside opposing/contrary advice and views by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, the Council of Legal Education, Nigerian Law School, the Nigerian Bar Association and other major stakeholders in the legal education sector in Nigeria. The extant law, the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act, in its section 1(2) and section 3 respectively confers on the Council of Legal Education the “responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession” and for “Continuing Legal Education”. By the combined effect section 2(5) and section 4 of the Act, the Council may “do such things as it considers expedient for the purpose of performing its functions” subject to general directions by the Hon Attorney-General of the Federation. Thus, the dissenting advice and views of the Council, of the Hon AGF, of the NBA and of some other stakeholders were based mainly on the reasonable realisation that establishment of additional Campuses for the Nigerian Law School is better left in the hands of the Council in collaboration with the Nigerian Law School as administrative matters to be guided by expediency and need, among other factors. The Council of Legal Education, the Management of the Nigerian Law School, among other stakeholders, are better -placed to make/take decisions in this respect. There is an adage that “he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches”. Besides, most of the existing seven Campuses of the Law School are in dire need of urgent infrastructure upgrade which on its part requires greater funding from government and stakeholders. It is hoped that these should be principal among what occupies the attention of stakeholders, rather than suggestions for establishment of too many additional Campuses (at the same time), some of which may end up being not viable, as a result of paucity of funds and dearth of basic infrastructure. Finally, the Council’s views were guided partly by its belief that increased funding for the Nigerian Law School would bring about the needed upgrade in the existing seven Campuses, to adequately serve the need of growing number of aspirants to the Bar seeking admission to the Law School. It is hoped also that this Summit should subject the recent Bill passed by the Senate, among other issues, to rigorous discussions in order to come up with recommendations that would best serve the best interest of legal education, the legal profession, and the Nigerian nation.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to recall that in an effort to improve legal education, especially the practical training of aspirants to the Bar, the Council of Legal Education under the Chairmanship of Hon Justice M.O Onalaja (of blessed memory), had in 2008 constituted a Legal Education Review Committee, headed by Mrs Funke Adekoya, SAN. Other members of the Committee included Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN (as he then was); Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; Prof Fidelis Oditah, SAN, QC; Mr. AB. Mahmoud, SAN; Mr. Ernest Ojukwu (then DDG and Head, NLS, Enugu Campus); Mr. Olanrewaju Onadeko (then DDG and Head, NLS, Lagos Campus); Mr. Nasiru Usman (then DDG and Head, NLS, Kano Campus); Prof. I.O Smith (Faculty of Law, UNILAG); Dr. Isa H. Chiroma (then, Dean Law Faculty, UNIMAID) and Mrs Roli Hariman (then lecturer, Nigerian Law School).
The Committee had called for memoranda from all stakeholders in the legal education project in Nigeria. The Committee considered all memoranda received as well as all presentations made at the Legal Education Summit 2006 which had held in Abuja on March 03, 2006 under the theme:”The Future of Legal Education in Nigeria”. Also considered were reports and recommendations of the “National Committee on the Reform of Legal Education in Nigeria”. The Committee paid a visit to several institutions, including the College of Law and the BPP Law School both in London England and the findings aided the work of the Committee (see: Ernest Ojukwu, Legal Education In Nigeria: A Chronicle Of Reforms And Transformation Under Tahir Mamman).
The result of the Committee’s work was positive; the Committee made far-reaching recommendations on reform and improvement of legal education in Nigeria. I am aware that the Committee’s recommendations had led to, among others, the birth in 2008, of a “New Teaching Curriculum” for the Nigerian Law School, a curriculum, which I am told, has been reviewed more than five times, to keep it in tune with developments in law, the legal profession, the legal education sector in Nigeria and across the globe. Thus, tremendous efforts have been made in the past. It is time to build on past and current efforts in order to move legal education to the next level. This Summit presents a great opportunity in this respect.
Moreover, the law setting up Council Legal Education needs to be reviewed to reflect current realities and needs of the profession and the sector. To this end, the NBA has presented before the Body of Benchers, a draft Bill on Legal Education in Nigeria in Nigeria, which Bill seeks, inter alia, to create a Council of Legal Education that will be separate from Nigerian Law School and other Private Law Schools to be established. It is hoped that this development will be among the matters that will be subjected to thorough and dispassionate examination and debates at this Summit, with a view to proffering recommendations on what is the best-suited for the profession, the sector and the nation, without destroying past and present efforts and achievements, without lowering standards, and without dislocating the fabrics and core values of the profession/sector. It is therefore my hope that deliberations and recommendations of this Summit should proceed on the notion that proposed improvements or reform or re-imaging of legal education in Nigeria can only yield more effective results and quickly, if those proposed improvements acknowledge and are founded on past and existing efforts and achievements. Existing structures and achievements will provide a solid foundation to future improvements. We may not have got to where should be. But, no doubt, we have left where we used to be. However, without continual collaborations and improvement, such things as growth and progress, achievement, and success have no meaning. I recall the counsel by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
In conclusion, let me assure this Summit and all participants that the Council of Legal Education will seriously consider any communiqué/recommendations emanating from this summit, to ensure that this effort is not in vain.
Thank you and God bless you abundantly.

By: Chief Emeka Ngige

Ngige, is the Chairman, Council of Legal
Education, Nigeria

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Crime/Justice

Court Rules On Dagogo’s Application, Friday

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The embattled governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State and a member of Federal House of Representatives representing Degema /Bonny federal constituency, Hon Farah Dagogo has pleaded not guilty to the two counts charge of cultism and felony.
He was alleged to have attempted the disruption of screening exercise of PDP in the state in the charge filed against him by Rivers state government at the state High Court in Port Harcourt, Monday.
The embattled federal lawmaker was properly arraigned at the state High Court presided over by Justice Chinwendu Nworgu where he took his plea on the two-count charge on cultism and disruption of PDP screening exercise in Port Harcourt ,recently .
The charge sheet read before the court, that “you Farah Dagogo and others now at large are alleged to have on the 27th of April, 2022 invaded PDP party secretariat on Aba Road with firearms causing panic with intention to disrupt screening exercise of the party”.
However, when the charges were read out, the accused, Hon Farah Dagogo who was brought to the court on wheelchair pleaded not guilty and thereafter, his Counsel informed the court of his bail application and cited some sections of the Rivers State law High Court rule and practice which authorises the court to grant bail to his client after withdrawing preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to entertain and hear the matter.
Opposing the motion, the prosecution counsels led by the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Hon Zacheaus Adango (SAN) in his response, objected to the application, saying that bail application could not be tendered.
He argued that there was a pending motion on preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter which must be determined first and therefore asked the court to dismiss the bail application motion.
Trial Judge, Justice Chinwendu Nworgu after listening to the various arguments from both the defending and prosecution counsels adjourned the matter to Friday, 20th of May, 2022 for consideration of bail application and possible commencement of proper trial, of the matter and directed that the accused be remanded in correctional centre, while also advised that he should be taken back to Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where he is taking medical attention.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, the Attorney General, Zaccheaus Adango, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, explained what transpired in court, saying that the state opposed the bail application of the defendant.
On his own part, one of the Counsels to Farah Dagogo, Emmanuel Rukani, expressed concern that despite the fact that their client was brought to court on wheelchair, the court still adjourned his bail application but expressed hope that the court would look at the process before it and do justice to the matter on the next adjourned date.

By: Amadi Akujobi

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Crime/Justice

N6.9bn Fraud: Absence Of Witnesses Stalls Fayose’s Trial

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned until July 4, the continuation of trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who was charged with money laundering and fraud.
The trial, which was earlier scheduled for continuation, was adjourned due to unavailability of prosecution witnesses.
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for N6.9billion fraud and money laundering.
When the case was called, yesterday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced appearance for prosecution.
Messrs U.U. Njoku and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced appearance for Fayose (first defendant) and his company, Spotlight Investment Ltd. which is the second defendant.
Jacobs told the court that two prosecution witnesses, billed to testify, yesterday, were unavailable.
According to him, prosecution’s 12th witness was unavailable due to political party’s primary election while the other witness was occupied with another matter.
He prayed the court to grant an adjournment, saying that he had already informed the defence team of the development.
Both defence counsel did not object to the request for adjournment.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke consequently adjourned the case for continuation of trial.
Fayose was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on an 11-count charge.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on October 24, 2018, in the sum of N50million with sureties in like sum.
The former governor was, however, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.
He also pleaded not guilty before Aneke, and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail.
At the last adjourned date in December 2021, EFCC called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, allegedly illegally bought property worth several millions of Naira.
During the trial before Olatoregun, EFCC called witnesses from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
Fayose allegedly received cash payment of $5million (about N1.8billion) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300million in his account and illegally took control of the aggregate sum of about N622million.
Fayose was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully retain the aggregate sum of N851million
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have illegally used about N1.6billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
He was also alleged to have used the sum of N200million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also formed crime proceeds.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.

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Landlord Butchers Female Tenant, Fiancee In PH

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A landlord and owner of a compound at Ekwulobia Street Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt has allegedly butchered his female tenant, Miss Comfort Nwagadi and her fiancee, Mr Stanley Nwagadi for dating each other, saying that his tenant was dating a man she reportedly takes care of.
Speaking with our reporter at her hospital bed, Comfort Nwagadi said the incident happened on Saturday night.
She was rushed to hospital Sunday morning when her health condition was deterrioting after the landlord attacked her.
Speaking from her admission bed, the victim of the attack said, she washed and spread her clothes on the rope on that fateful day and the landlord of the compound who is also residing in the compound removed her washed clothes where she had spread them and they fell down on the ground.
She averred that when she went to pick up the clothe, her landlord started abusing her that she was keeping a man she feed and takes care of adding that in the wake of the abuse, her fiancee came in and heard the utterances from the landlord popularly called Alabo, and both had exchange of words.
Comfort stated that she and her fiancee left after the exchange of words with the landlord but
unknown to them that the said landlord had sharpened a machete and was already waiting for them.
The moment she walked into the compound as she came back with her fiancee from where they went to, the landlord rushed her with a machete and started cutting her.
Her fiancee who ran to save her on hearing her scream, was also cut twice on his head and hand before the landlord ran away.
Also speaking, Mr Stanley Nwagadi told our reporter that he rushed to save his fiancee when she was screaming from the machete cuts she received from their landlord and called for justice on the matter.
Our correspondent who visited the intending couple at hospital reports that Comfort had four machete cuts on the head, three at her fingers while the fiancee Stanley had two machete cuts on the head and left hand.
Police Officers from Azikiwe Police Division, Iloabuchi Mile 2 Diobu who spoke undercover said he had also visited the intending couple at the hospital where they were receiving treatment.
However, when contacted on phone, the acting spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Grace Iringe Koko said she was yet to be briefed on the matter.

By: Amadi Akujobi

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