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Solanke, Falana task religious bodies on justice, education system

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First female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief ‘Folake Solanke (left); activist lawyer, Femi Falana; Presiding Bishop, The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Mike Okonkwo; and his wife, Peace, during the 20th Mike Okonkwo yearly lecture in Lagos…yesterday. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

Nigerian lawyers and social critics, Chief (Mrs.) Folake Solanke (SAN), and Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), have urged religious bodies, especially the church, to join public conversation in addressing the crisis in the education sector and ensure justice for the masses.

Solanke, who spoke during the 20th edition of the Mike Okonkwo yearly lecture at the MUSON Centre entitled: ‘Justice as an Instrument of Enduring Peace in National Building’ organised by the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Mike Okonkwo, in Lagos yesterday, decried the ‘serious scandal’ in the Nigerian education sector in which public and private institutions, including the universities, the Law School, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and others now accept less than 50 per cent as pass mark.

According to her, “as a former teacher of Latin and Mathematics in England and Nigeria, anything below 50 per cent is a failure. Now, institutions in Nigeria accept 40, 45 and 48 per cent as pass marks. Scandalous! I was appalled to hear that JAMB approves of 120 out of 400 as pass mark. 120 out of 400 is 30 per cent.”

Solanke, who chaired the event, said students who gain admissions through such low standard could only come out as unemployable graduates.

The senior lawyer, therefore, pleaded with government and educational institutions to stop the ‘national scandal’, just as she urged the church to collaborate with others to start a public conversation on the ‘national scandal’ so that it could be contained.

Falana, who was the guest speaker, in his address entitled: “The Danger of Unequal Criminal Justice System in Nigeria,” said it was incumbent on the church and the elite to ensure that something crucial was done about the nation’s justice system to allow for equal treatment for both the rich and the underprivileged.

He tasked the church to go beyond the pulpit and collaborate with some credible Nigerian elite to prevent political thugs and criminals from completely hijacking the political space and governance.

The lawyer alleged that the latest wave of crime, kidnapping, fraud and others could be traced to politicians, because most of the illegal arms and ammunition put in the hands of the thugs by their political godfathers during the elections were never recovered.

The human rights activist stressed the need to put the various telecommunications companies in the country to task, saying they must be sanctioned any time a criminal uses their lines to perpetrate illicit acts.

He also urged the religious body to partner with magistrates to stop illegal detention by the police.


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