The Body of Benchers on Tuesday warned the National Assembly against giving effect to its proposal to regulate the establishment of Law Schools in the country.
The Chairman of BOB, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), issued the warning while admitting 4,691 new lawyers at the Call to Bar ceremony. He said, “May we plead with the National Assembly to stop toying with the idea of promulgating laws or amending the Legal Practitioners Act, to pave way for the proliferation of Law School campuses, particularly, around the neighbourhoods of some lawmakers.
“It is within the exclusive prerogative of the Council of Legal Education, in consultation with the Body of Benchers to establish new Law School campuses. While I do not question the jurisdiction of the National Assembly to make laws as appropriate, Law School campuses cannot be established without clearance from the Council of Legal Education.
“What we need now is the improvement and upgrading of the existing Law School campuses, using the newly commissioned Graham Douglas Law School Campus, Port Harcourt, built and equipped by the Rivers State Government as a model. I dare say that it is the best in the country for now.”
This was just as the Nigerian Bar Association shunned the Call to Bar ceremony. NBA, in a statement by its National President, Mr Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), said the action was based on Olanipekun’s refusal to step aside.
Maikyau stated that the lawyers’ umbrella body, had in a letter copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, asked Olanipekun to step aside as leader of the BoB pending investigations into allegations of misconduct against him by Adekunbi Ogunde, who claimed he (Olanipekun) influenced judges to favour clients who patronise his firm. The NBA had consequently told Olanipekun to allow his deputy, Justice Mary Odili (retd.), to preside over the Call to Bar, a request he ignored.
At the ceremony, Olanipekun advised the new lawyers to always uphold the ethics of the profession and desist from acts that could portray the profession in a bad light.
Earlier, the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Chiroma (SAN), said the new lawyers completed the vocational training at the Nigerian Law School as prescribed by the Legal Education Act of 1962. According to him, out of a total of 5,802 students who participated in the exams, 4691 emerged successful representing 80.81 per cent.
A breakdown of the results showed that 119 students came out with 1st Class; 789 with 2nd Class Upper; 2, 460, 2nd Class Lower; and 1, 323 came out with Pass; while students were from the last exam.