The establishment of Nabo Graham Douglas campus of the Nigerian Law School has the approval of the Council of Legal Education, the Red Chamber of the National Assembly has said.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said they will visit the Port Harcourt campus of the Law School to assess ongoing construction work.
Bamidele, stated this in his opening remark at a public hearing on Legal Education (Consolidation, Etc) Act L.10, LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 (SB 820) at the Senate on Monday, pointing out that the intent and purpose of the bill is to enhance the justice sector to be in time with trends and practice as obtainable in other jurisdictions.
According to him, “it is instructive to note that during debate on the general principles of the bill at various sittings of the Senate, divergent views were canvassed by distinguished senators, thereafter myriad of reaction was stimulated from relevant stakeholders and member of the public on the rationale of enacting the bills as an act of the National Assembly.
“Consequently the committee resolved to adopt the legislative mechanism of conducting this public hearing in order to gauge and aggregate the viewpoint and opinion of relevant stakeholders in our bid to further strengthen and enrich the legislative process.”
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi, says it is intended to create at least two campuses the Nigerian Law School in each geopolitical zone, adding that the Port Harcourt campus will not be affected by the amendment.
While he said, “there is already approval for a Law school in Port Harcourt, and that will be accommodated”, Rivers Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, in a memorandum submitted to the committee, urged the National Assembly to reject the Bill 2021 as presently constituted, because it is oppressive and discriminatory against the government and people of Rivers.
‘’During the flag-off ceremony for the construction of modern facilities at the Yenagoa Campus of the Nigerian Law School by Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, had offered to build, furnish and handover a brand new campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt, if given the approval’’, he said.
Continuing, he said President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Attorney General and Justice Minister of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, consented to the request and work has reached an advanced stage.
“In any event, a law is not required to establish new campuses of the Nigerian Law School as that exercise is purely administrative and the Council of Legal Education has already exercised that power with respect to the establishment of the Port Harcourt Campus of the Nigerian Law School.”
Speaking on the bill, Senator Kashim Shettima said Governor Wike has further demonstrated that he believes in the Nigerian project by investing in the construction of a brand new campus of Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt.
“If someone can singularly build a Law School, he who comes to equity as you lawyers say, must come with not only clean hands, but the ability to add value and he (Wike) has added value by giving a Law School, and justice and equity demand Law School should be established in Port Harcourt.”
Chairman of Council of Legal Education, Emeka Ngige, SAN, observed that there was an erroneous conception that by creating the Port Harcourt campus, the Council had created a new Law School.
He explained that Governor Wike during a visit to the Yenagoa Campus with the Director-General of the Law School, had been appalled by the decrepit infrastructure on the campus, and offered to build two hostels and one auditorium, valued at N5billion.
Ngige said during the flag-off of the two hostels and auditorium at the Yenagoa campus, Governor Wike offered to build a brand new campus in Port Harcourt if the Council of Legal Education gives approval.
“We didn’t agree there. We had to follow due process. We went back to our supervising ministry, the Ministry of Justice to table the offer by His Excellency, the governor. The Minister in turn took it to Mr. President and Mr. President gave his approval. That was how Port Harcourt campus came.”
While declaring that the establishment of the Port Harcourt campus is devoid of sentiment or politics, he added that Rivers is presenting constructing two hotels that will accommodate 1500 people, an administrative block, a medical centre, lecturers quarters among others.
Impressed by the infrastructure being provided by the Wike administration, he said the Council now has a guideline, tagged the ‘Rivers’ model’, that will be used as a yardstick to accept or reject any proposal for the establishment of any additional campus.
Former Nigerian Bar Association President, Onueze C.J. Okocha, SAN, said extant law empowers only the Council of Legal Education to establish campuses of the Law School, pointing out that approval for the Port Harcourt campus followed through all the mechanisms set for such approval.