The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN on Tuesday inaugurated the Council of Legal Education(CLE) where he commended Chief Emeka Ngige SAN on his reappointment as Chairman of the Council.
Meanwhile, Malami has warned against whittling down the powers of the council in forging a roadmap for legal education in Nigeria.
He urged council members to sustain the Nigerian Law School Initiative (NLSI) which has led to massive infrastructural revamp of the campuses, adding that Ngige’s reappointment by President Muhammadu Buhari “is a testament of his commendable service whilst being in the saddle in the past four years from 2019-2023.”
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He observed that “The Nigerian Law School Initiative, which he conceived, is a noble idea that needs to be sustained for the development of the bastion of legal education in Nigeria.”
On the powers of the council, Malami warned against attempts to whittle down such powers, saying: “For the sake of sanity and uniformity, I wish to reiterate my position that the powers of the Council of Legal Education should not be whittled down in terms of determining the direction of legal education or establishment of Campuses of the Nigerian Law School.” It is recalled that the Senate had made attempts to create new campuses for the Nigerian Law School.
He commended the council “for its modest achievements in the past four years especially in the areas of creating a window for the admission of graduates from the National Open University of Nigeria, clearing of backlog of over 10,000 students arising from violation of admission quota by some of our Universities, enhancement of curriculum and adoption of interactive teaching methods, administrative reforms, establishment of Quality Assurance Unit to ensure uniform delivery of academic programs and facilities, infrastructural upgrade across its campuses, among others.”
Noting that the task ahead “is enormous,” Malami urged the council members “to work hard at birthing reforms in our legal education that will arrest decline in the quality of output from our legal training institutions and attune our legal education with contemporary global trends while also addressing local needs.”
“I challenge you to be innovative and seek enabling partnerships as well as peer review mechanisms that will increase the bar of excellence across the legal profession,” he said, urging the council to “also look at the prospect of involvement of the private sector in legal education in Nigeria.”
He noted that the council “will continue to be relevant in playing its role as the gate-keeper, acting in concert with the Body of Benchers, in determining access or admission into the legal profession,” adding that its “rich and unique composition” is a deliberate design to enable members “act as a veritable catalyst for the development of the Nigerian Law School and engender support for the institution from the Federating Units in view of the scarce resources at the disposal of the Council and the Law School. On behalf of the Federal Government, I commend the developmental interventions of the Rivers State Government and other friends of the Nigerian Law School. I humbly urge other stakeholders to take up similar initiatives to enrich our common legacy.”
In his Goodwill Message, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN, praised the Council for the giant strides recorded under the leadership of Ngige, and pledged the support of NBA in partnering with the council to uplift and reform legal education in Nigeria.
Responding, Ngige thanked President Buhari for the reappointment as well as Malami “for the recommendation to Mr. President, and for the freehand the Honourable Minister gave us in discharging our statutory responsibilities pursuant to Section 1(2) of the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act Cap L10 Laws of the Federation, 2004.
“We pledge that the vision of this administration, though outgoing, and that of the in-coming regarding the uplifting and reform of legal education in Nigeria will continue to remain our focus. Luckily, both the outgoing and the incoming administration have placed reformation of the legal profession – of which the council- forms part as a priority and as work in progress.”
While thanking the outgone members for their commitment to the goals of the council, Ngige assured that the council would commit afresh to delivering cutting-edge legal education in grooming lawyers prove their mettle today and in the future, especially with the onset of technology and innovation and the attendant disruption.
Some of the members who attended the inauguration include the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba; Nigerian Law School Director-General, Prof. Isa Chiroma SAN; former Ekiti State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Wale Fapohunda SAN; Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; his Delta State counterpart, Mr. Isaiah Bozimo; Mr. Paul Harris Adakole Ogbole SAN, and Prof. Abiola Sanni SAN.