Foundation wants AGF to intervene in CLE/NOUN law graduates impasse
The Foundation For Peace Professionals, a civil society group, has urged the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), to intervene, and peacefully resolve the ongoing dispute between the Council of Legal Education (CLE) and the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
In a letter titled, “Request for Your Authoritative Intervention to Promptly and Peacefully Resolve the Ongoing Legal Dispute Between Students Of National Open University Of Nigeria (NOUN) and the Council of Legal Education Through the Exercise of Your Lawful Authority As Contained In Chapter 4 of the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act,” the group urged the minister to speedily resolve the non-admission of NOUN law graduates into the Nigerian Law School (NLS).
The foundation, which described the NOUN as the only Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institution in the country, with all its courses duly accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC), including its law programme, regretted that year after the first sets of graduates emerged from the school, they are being openly discriminated by other federal government establishments such as NYSC and its law graduates rejected by the NLS.
The petition signed by the foundation’s founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abdulrazaq O. Hamzat, added that, “While it is possible to manage with NYSC exemption letter given to NOUN graduates, this is not possible with a law degree, as a law graduate cannot practice without being called to Bar. This led to the ongoing legal dispute between NOUN law students/graduates and the CLE.”
In 2015, graduates and undergraduates of the Faculty of Law of NOUN, dragged the CLE to the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, for allegedly refusing them admission into the NLS.
Also joined in the suit, which followed a publication by the CLE in national dailies barring law graduates of the school from admission into the NLS were the NUC, the school authorities and the Office of Attorney General of the Federation.
In the suit No FHC/PH/CS/UI/2015, the students are praying the court to declare as null and void, the publication by the council, as well as declare it an infringement on their fundamental rights.
Shortly after the suit was filed, the school’s management distanced itself from it, and the Office of Attorney General of the Federation, also applied to be exempted from the case. Soon the NUC towed the same line leaving the students in the cold.
Although, the applications of the three to be exempted were recently dismissed by the trial judge, Hon. Justice B.O. Quardri, the foundation said their conduct has been far from being ideal and satisfactory.
The foundation informed the minister that, should the CLE succeed in doing barring the law graduates from NLS, “the lives of many young Nigerians would have been jeopardised due to government’s irresponsibility.”
In view of this, and in line with this administration’s change agenda and government responsibility, this dispute deserves your authoritative intervention, through exercise of your powers as contained in Chapter 4 of Legal Education Act, 1979. I, therefore, urge you, most respectfully, to exercise this authority
for the good of this nation.