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Offending Law Faculties create backlogs – Law School DG

There are allegations that female Muslim students wearing hijab (head covering) were prevented from writing exams. What is the dress code and does it allow…

There are allegations that female Muslim students wearing hijab (head covering) were prevented from writing exams. What is the dress code and does it allow for hijab?
There is no discrimination at the Law School,  people are allowed to practice their faith, creed or religion as they deem fit. We have not had any issues with dressing at the Law School to the best of my knowledge.
Recently NLS celebrated 50 years of its existence. What are your expectations from the alumni?
In every tertiary institution in Nigeria there is the need to get into good relationship with the alumni for obvious reasons and it is the same in every other institution in the world. I don’t think we should be different in Nigeria, the alumni association is an association of beneficiaries of the institution who have now achieved their landmark in various vocations, professions and trades in the nation and beyond.  It is a means of giving back a little bit from what they have achieved to the institution.
The NLS general alumni association was one of those high points of the 50 years anniversary celebration, it includes having an office which will serve as a rallying point for alumni wherever they may be in the world. It will also ensure that all the former students are conversant with information on the institution so they know the needs; areas where you can come in which is not necessarily in cash, it can be by way of endowment. There is also an endowment fund to which the alumni is expected to contribute .
UNILAG has actually advertised a position that will serve as the officer in charge of alumni and other related issues in that university. We need to follow suit here at the NLS.
We hope that all the alumni wherever they are, at home and abroad, will rise to the occasion and do the institution proud. I commend those who participated at the 50th anniversary celebration, we have a number of pledges made by various class sets but these are just a few, we expect the other class sets to come and be part of this lofty arrangement.
As the former secretary of CLE and now the DG, how would this play out on your present appointment?
The NLS is unique in many ways though things are being streamlined now. In the past, the secretary to the CLE was actually the penultimate to being the DG NLS; a number of my predecessors went through that route. Justice Sofolahan was the first secretary to the CLE, then he became the DG; then Chief Ibironke was the first person from the academia he became secretary and then the DG; Dr. Abayomi also went from the academia. But before Abayomi there was also Oba Olagbegi, the Olowo of Owo now. He was secretary to the CLE from academics, then he went to ascend the throne of his ancestors so he did not wait to become the DG. Then there was Kole Abayomi who also moved from academics to secretary of the CLE then DG. After him was me, I became the secretary to the CLE and Deputy DG Lagos Campus and now DG.
There also was Mr. Anekwa after me. From director of academics to secretary to the CLE  before he retired.
It is a unique feature of the NLS but that has changed now. After my tenure the change was proposed and Mr. Anekwa became the last academic to occupy the post. We now have it separated, so you either go the admin line up to the secretary of the CLE or go through the academic line and walk your way to the DG. So it won’t be possible again for an academic to via into admin.
There has been the issue of backlog of students for several years. Now we have had the ASUU five months’ strike. What are your plans for April 2014 and how do you intend to deal with the issue?
Backlog has actually been taken care of. The last backlog we had was about three years ago. At that time all the backlog cases that we knew of were cleared. But some law faculties have the penchant of continuously  exceeding their given quotas, these quotas are not given arbitrarily, they are given after inspection of facilities, in terms  of teaching staff and resources available in the library, structures and all those are considered and a number is given to the faculty. But the offending faculties are well known, and they do it so badly. Some exceed their quota by as much as 2000 percent. A faculty with a quota of 50 will be admitting 1000 students in a year. It is that bad but we are talking about a few faculties in this bracket.
Majority of our law faculties are disciplined and keep to the terms of their student number, so we don’t have any problem with that. Something has to be done because we cannot clear the backlog and they create more backlogs. If every law faculty keeps to the terms of the number it is given, then there will not be anything like backlog but the CLE is taking up this issue.
The worst of these faculties has got its accreditation suspended and it is not supposed to be admitting students, I don’t know whether it is admitting because we hear again that there is a back log of students from there. There is no profession, institution in the world that does not operate within limit of rules and regulations. So it is wrong, most unfortunate when you have an institution that does not heed all these regulations and does things as if it is a law unto itself.
It is only those offending faculties that have been creating the backlog, not the more disciplined ones. It will be good for us, the profession and the nation, if every law faculty keeps to the ambit of what has been allocated to it. We now have six campuses for all the law graduates that are produced in Nigeria. The issue of backlog should not arise but when a faculty with a quota of 50 starts graduating 1000 yearly, where are the facilities for the training of these students?  What quality of graduates are they going to be?
But with the five months old ASUU strike that has just been called off, wouldn’t there be a backlog?
I can tell you that ASUU strike notwithstanding, by the nature of study of law and the programme at the NLS which goes unbroken, most universities actually graduated their students for this current session so most of the students are in the Law School. So there is no backlog to the best of my knowledge. We have full capacity of our students and they came in October and we have finished our first term. So there is no backlog left in our universities.
ASUU President has also been emphatic that the five months ASUU strike will not disrupt and that all ASUU members have been directed to interact with students in the class and even outside the classroom to make up for lost time for students to complete the session without compromising the quality. I will like to take his words for it and believe that by the time we are having our next admission in October 2014, the graduates would have been well prepared to come to the NLS.
As a disciplinarian what plans do you have for examination malpractices?
For our profession where character is at the fore it is a no go area, there is zero tolerance for exam malpractices at the NLS. The BOB charged with calling new entrants to the Bar forbids exam malpractices , in our rules of professional ethics and conduct, it deals with anything that has to do with probity , accountability and character which are held in high esteem. If any student gets himself involved in examination malpractices, that type of student definitely knows that the Bar is not a place for him.

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