Sunday, June 10, 2018

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Friday, August 11, 2017

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Law School is No Longer Necessary - University Faculties Can Train Students For Bar Exam AS is Done In America, Canada and Other Jurisdictions



In America, Canada and other jurisdictions, potential lawyers
are not assembled in a place to be prepared for Bar
examinations. The Council of Legal Education (CLE)
supervises this practice in Nigeria and holds the mandate of
running the Nigerian Law School. They decide who or which
school to admit to law school or not, even if the school is a
creation of the federal or state governments and passed the
accreditation of the National University Commission (NUC).

With the upsurge in number of law graduates stretching
existing facilities, CLE created additional campuses to absorb
the pressure. Still, the campuses appear inadequate compared
to the number of students that graduate from law faculties in
Nigerian universities and across the globe yearly. Former
director general of Nigeria Institute for Advanced Legal Studies
(NIALS), Professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN) in this interview
with JOSEPH ONYEKWERE and BRIDGET CHIEDU ONOCHIE
said keeping the law school is no longer necessary. For him,
university faculties should prepare their students to write the
examinations and get called to Bar when they pass. He also
explained his position about lawyers addressing the press
after court sessions and cautioned that the practice could
sway the opinion of judges if unchecked.

On the argument about whether the council of legal education
should be restricted to only setting bar examinations, while
law graduates prepare themselves for the bar examination, he
said law school should be abolished. “I canvassed this system
about five years ago and they came after me. It generated a
lot of controversies such that very senior judge’s were
castigating me. But it just did not affect anything because I
know that we cannot continue like this. They said Azinge
called for the abolition of law school. That is still my position.
How many are we? We are just about 170,000 out of over 170
million people and the number is growing everyday. There are
schools that have backlog of about four, five years. When you
throw these people into the system, you have 3000 people.
May be 10,000 is still queuing up in the law faculties.

We should also consider making law a graduate programme. I
think we are gradually going to a point where we are going to
make law a graduate programme. Take a degree in anything
and come and read law. The idea of making law an
undergraduate programme is fast losing its shine so to speak.
Two, we have to stem the tide and check the backlog that
seems to be blossoming at a very fast rate. What is taught in
the law school that a law faculty cannot teach? Some of
those that teach in the law school are lower in cadre than
those who teach in the law faculties, in terms of experience
and exposure. If it is a five-year programme, you make it a
six-year programme. Graduate with your LLB and stay back
and do additional one year. The only challenge is: are you
going to have a central body like JAMB to set the exams,
coordinate the grading and marking of the examinations? That
is all you need. Most people study in their various institutions.
You don’t have a central place where you go to do your last
examinations after SS3. You do it on your schools. It is not
centralized. All we are saying is: why can’t it be done for law
school? We shy away from this? But if we are the ones at the
receiving end, we would have been shouting. Why should
government fund the law school? Other professional bodies
such as doctors, architects, engineers and so on, are they
being funded by government? Why is law so special? What
I’m saying is that it is only going to be for a while and people
would speak out so loudly that things would come to an end.
Why can’t people see tomorrow and start planning for it? One
day, one pharaoh that knows no Joseph will come to the
throne and say it is all over, go and sort out yourselves. The
council of legal education go to accredit law faculties.
If you accredit law faculty, it means that that law faculty is
capable of training students that can take those exams,
capable of training students that are good enough to come to
the law school. In other words, capable of training students
that are good enough to move a step higher by taking the
qualifying examination for BL. We now have a lot of
universities including the private ones. How can the law
school prepare 3000 students at once? Even if you create
additional 10 campuses, it cannot. We are saying, in a class
where you have 150 to 200 people, that is a big class.

Now you have 1000 people you are facing in a programme. I
have been to law school to deliver a talk and it was like a
stadium. How can you really get to the students intellectually
and otherwise? It is a number we cannot manage. For me,
that is really a big challenge and the earlier we address it, the
better for us. I feel that time has come for us to get out of the
law school and do other things. Where is the law school in
America and Canada? They do their bar exams. They prepare
themselves and go and do their bar examinations. I think we
have gotten to that stage now. It is a self-indictment for the
director general of the law school to go to conference in Port
Harcourt to report that people write exams for others. What
have you done to checkmate that and what are your plans
against it. It is not a matter of moralizing, what has that
added to the value of lawyers? Tomorrow they will start
looking at lawyers as people that can’t write their own exams.
There are things one has to manage well. You don’t have to
put such thing in a report in a public place.
On the issue of lawyers addressing journalists after court
sessions, Azinge said even though the law guarantees freedom
of speech, lawyers must avoid statements that are pre-
judicious.

His words: “I took cognizance of few points. One, the freedom
of expression is guaranteed by the constitution and to that
extent, anybody can say anything within the confines of the
constitutional provisions. In other words, bearing in mind that
there are certain things that ought not to be said as far as
derogation is concerned. But the issues of matters subjudice
is one that every lawyer at an elementary stage ought to be
conscious of. This pre-supposes that we should not be
discussing matters that are pending in court at a point in time
in a way and manner that may be prejudicial to the outcome
of that particular case. What are we trying to guard against?
We are trying to guard against a situation where public
opinion will now become the basis for determination of
disputes because the judges also read. Their opinion or
thinking can be shaped by what they read and if they feel that
the preponderance view seems to be on one side, for them to
be in tandem with public opinion, they may be swayed. To
that extent, it is contextually better not to discuss matters
that are pending.”

If you accredit law faculty, it means that that law faculty is
capable of training students that can take those exams,
capable of training students that are good enough to come to
the law school. In other words, capable of training students
that are good enough to move a step higher by taking the
qualifying examination for BL. We now have a lot of
universities including the private ones. How can the law
school prepare 3000 students at once? Even if you create
additional 10 campuses, it cannot. We are saying, in a class
where you have 150 to 200 people, that is a big class.
Now you have 1000 people you are facing in a programme. I
have been to law school to deliver a talk and it was like a
stadium. How can you really get to the students intellectually
and otherwise? It is a number we cannot manage. For me,
that is really a big challenge and the earlier we address it, the
better for us. I feel that time has come for us to get out of the
law school and do other things. Where is the law school in
America and Canada? They do their bar exams. They prepare
themselves and go and do their bar examinations. I think we
have gotten to that stage now. It is a self-indictment for the
director general of the law school to go to conference in Port
Harcourt to report that people write exams for others. What
have you done to checkmate that and what are your plans
against it. It is not a matter of moralizing, what has that
added to the value of lawyers? Tomorrow they will start
looking at lawyers as people that can’t write their own exams.
There are things one has to manage well. You don’t have to
put such thing in a report in a public place.

On the issue of lawyers addressing journalists after court
sessions, Azinge said even though the law guarantees freedom
of speech, lawyers must avoid statements that are pre-
judicious.

His words: “I took cognizance of few points. One, the freedom
of expression is guaranteed by the constitution and to that
extent, anybody can say anything within the confines of the
constitutional provisions. In other words, bearing in mind that
there are certain things that ought not to be said as far as
derogation is concerned. But the issues of matters subjudice
is one that every lawyer at an elementary stage ought to be
conscious of. This pre-supposes that we should not be
discussing matters that are pending in court at a point in time
in a way and manner that may be prejudicial to the outcome
of that particular case. What are we trying to guard against?
We are trying to guard against a situation where public
opinion will now become the basis for determination of
disputes because the judges also read. Their opinion or
thinking can be shaped by what they read and if they feel that
the preponderance view seems to be on one side, for them to
be in tandem with public opinion, they may be swayed. To
that extent, it is contextually better not to discuss matters
that are pending.”

His words :”I don’t think that is an impossibility. But again,
the ball is in the court of the media because we want to see
the maturity that people must exhibit for them to cover
matters of such nature live. What do I mean? Let me give you
example of football. Some fans now go out of their ways to
gain attention. What do they do? Millions of people are
watching Manchester United playing Manchester City and a
fan who craves for publicity jumps into the field to go and hug
Ronaldo. It is not the hugging that is the issue, it is that
publicity that he craves for.

So what do the media do? Once they see such situation, they
pull out the camera and deny you the cravings of being seen
by millions of spectators across the globe. So, my own
position is that there are certain things that can happen inside
the court during proceedings. Are we matured enough to know
that we are not supposed to air them? Assuming that there is
a scream by a prisoner being tried, or a statement which is
provocative or otherwise inciting by a witness or a suspect in
court, which is likely to impact negatively on the society,
whether Muslims or Christians, is the media matured enough
to know that they would cut off the scene? That is the kind of
thing you see in South Africa.

It gets to a stage, a judge may be doing something such as
picking his nose, you cut off. Will the cameraman through
training know he shouldn’t cover that? Assuming somebody
doses off? There are certain things they try to guard against.
So, if you know that the maturity is there and cameraman can
guard against all those, there is nothing wrong in that. Yes,
I’m for automation. What does the constitution say? The
constitution says public hearing. Public includes live viewing
as the case maybe. But all I’m saying is that we must be
prepared for live streaming so that people would now know
what they are expected to do or not.

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Source: guardian