NOUN Law Graduates: Is the Decision of the Federal High Court Erroneous?

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James Obiadazie Jr

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt in a judgment dated 4/10/17 held that law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria [hereinafter referred to as NOUN] are not eligible to be admitted into the Nigerian Law School. Before now, NOUN law graduates instituted an action against Council of Legal Education & Ors for denial to allow them admission into the law school.

In the words of Justice Hillary Oshomah “the reliefs sort by the plaintiff are totally misconceived, unmeriterous and not granted. On this decision, this honourable court dismiss this suit”.

To determine whether or not the decision is erroneous, it would be suitable to briefly and critically examine the relevant statutory provisions alongside the court’s decision.

Section 1(2) Legal Education (Consolidation) Act, 1976 provides that

“the Council of Legal Education shall have responsibility for the legal education of persons seeking to become members of the legal profession in Nigeria”.   

Furthermore, Section 5(b) of same Act is to the effect that the Council of

Legal Education is empowered to prescribe condition precedent for admission into the Nigerian Law School; for instance fit and proper principle or good conduct. See Okonjo v. Council of Legal Education, FCA/L16/78 1979 Digest of Appeal Cases (DAC) 28). In other words, the Council of Legal Education is indeed a regulatory body saddled with the responsibility of setting down rules and regulations that must be met for anyone aspiring to be a legal practitioner in Nigeria.

In the light of the following the court was right when it held that “the power to admit students into law school is intrinsic and since the first defendant (CLE) does not share its power with any other person, that on issue of who to admit students and criteria of admitting that student is a matter of the domestic confines of council of Legal Education.”

The court further held “this court cannot decide to order University Commission or Council of Legal Education to admit students from National Open University of Nigeria into law school for reasons being that they obtained their law degree by part-time or distance education.”

Conclusively, it is also important to note that having an LL.B certificate does not make one eligible for admission into law school, hence, if an aspirant does not possess other necessary requirements and/or the institution he/she graduated therefrom is not accredited by Council of Legal Education, then such person is not qualified.

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From all I have said above, it is apparent that the position of the court is correct.

James Obiadazie, Jr. is a student in the Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Contact: +2348179725475, or nonso.obiadazie.191126@unn.edu.ng

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