NOUN vs. Law School

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Jed
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NOUN vs. Law School

Postby Jed » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:09 pm

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•It’s high time the imbroglio was resolved

The imbroglio over the status of the law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), should be resolved by this administration as quickly as possible. The previous administrations could not resolve it because they only paid lip service to that challenge. The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, for instance, didn’t do anything to resolve the dispute, yet he now gives the impression that he sympathises with the distressed graduates, by openly associating with them.

It is such double standard that has rendered the law products of the university emotionally and physically endangered. They are endangered because they attended a university approved and run by the state, where they are awarded the law degree, yet they are told that they are unqualified to be admitted to the Nigerian Law School, which would entitle them to be admitted to the Nigerian Bar as Solicitors and Advocates of the Supreme Court.

This embarrassing situation has lingered for years, with the authorities wringing their hands in self-inflicted helplessness. The simple question which NOUN must answer urgently is whether it obtained the requisite approval from relevant authorities before running the programme. If it did, why are its graduates being segregated against, from proceeding to the law school? And if it didn’t, why has it not obtained the needed approval for the programme? Furthermore, if the university had applied for approval, why has it not been granted?

NOUN, and the National Universities Commission (NUC) as well as the Council of Legal Education, responsible for the approval of law programme and admission to Nigerian Law School must give urgent answers to the questions we have raised; unless they don’t give a damn about their fellow citizens. Again, these authorities, especially the degree awarding institution, NOUN, whose graduates are left in limbo, must realise they owe the students more than a certificate as law graduates. They owe them access to the law school, otherwise they stand accused of fraudulent misrepresentation.

It is unlikely that students would enroll in NOUN to study a degree course in law, if they knew that the university was not qualified to train lawyers, who will be called to the Nigerian Bar. On their part, the NUC and the Council of Legal Education, which oversee the award of law degrees and the access to Nigerian Law School for the award of final qualification degree to practice law in Nigeria, should help to resolve this imbroglio.

Nigerians who attended the NOUN, and who have received an award of university law degree deserve an access to the law school, otherwise the programme should be stopped. Indeed, it is strange, if not fraudulent, for the government, through its relevant agencies, to approve the programme in NOUN, when it knows that the graduates will not be admitted into the law school. That clearly could be interpreted as obtaining by false pretence, and the graduates who are left in limbo are entitled to seek redress in court.

The government must find an answer to the problem. It cannot be left to linger, or those who can do something about the absurdity, shifting the blame. While the problem predates this administration, it should summon the moral courage to resolve it. Again, the present system of centralised training of lawyers should be re-examined, and if it is possible, have it more liberalised, even as standard is enforced. Also, any believe that quality lawyers cannot be trained from NOUN is archaic. What is needed is to set rigorous standard and the will to enforce it. Enough of the present absurdity.




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