The Nigerian Law School recently announced that graduates from the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, would no longer be accepted. The fate of all those who had spent years at NOUN remains uncertain at the moment.
But, for most, if not all, of them, the experience would have amounted to a colossal waste of funds and time. Most would never recover from it. The major reason for the disqualification of NOUN graduates from Law School is summarized by saying that “the study of law must be undertaken on a full-time basis…”

This is a most controversial position and we shall revisit it very soon. But, as things stand right now, NOUN’s graduates are out in the cold. Madonna’s graduates have long been shut out; so have Lead City University. It might be safer to stake your money at the nearest casino than to apply for law admission in Nigeria these days.

As if, surprises would never end with regard to law schools in Nigeria, another one just landed on our laps. Apparently, the university attended can have a tremendous influence on your performance in the Nigerian Law School. Some universities prepare their students better in terms of course content, attitude and diligence than others and the same few universities have been producing the top graduates in the Law School. But, the real surprise is the university adjudged the best overall.

Nobody could have predicted it. And, for me, it was at first unbelievable until I read that among the judges were the following eminent people. The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, SAN; Professor J.A Audi, representing the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA; Professor E. Olarinde, Provost, College of Law, Afe Babalola University; Dr Y.M Yusuf, Dean of Law School, University of Maiduguri; Mr Emeke Obejelu, representing the NBA, among others.

That settled it. With such judges, the outcome cannot be disputed – even if it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Forget private universities if you want to read law. Once again Nigeria is proving to be a country full of paradoxes. Just as one is beginning to think that some private universities offer better services in preparing future lawyers, a recent report has proved conclusively that the best four universities for law education in Nigeria are all public universities.

In a report published in the GUARDIAN edition of April 21, 2015, page 6, titled “COUNCIL RATES UNILORIN LAW STUDENTS BEST IN 2014 BAR FINAL EXAMS, written by Abiodun Fagbemi, University of Ilorin has emerged as the best Law School in Nigeria today. Yet, if you take another look at the chart published last week, you will notice that Unilorin, like most of our universities, operates with Provisional Accreditation.

The only fully accredited Law faculty in Nigeria is that of UNILAG. Is it a case of country of the blind where the one-eyed man is king? As the report revealed, the result for 2014 was not a fluke. Unilorin has been tops for several years. Let me supply the information from the excellent report. “The Council of Legal Education has rated the University of Ilorin, the best in the country based on the cumulative performance of its students in the 2014 Bar Final Examination of the Nigerian Law School.

According to the Committee report, University of Ilorin beat others among the top five.” These were, in order of merit: university of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Adekunle Ajasin University. In 2012 and 2013, University of Ilorin came second. In 2013 Unilorin came second to University of Ado-Ekiti. Meanwhile, the only private university to top the table, Babcock, was first in 2012 and had since dropped out of the top five. Some private universities have remained at the bottom for years.

So, what does that tell us? Clearly, if law is to serve as basis for judging universities, it would appear that parents and guardians paying huge fees for their wards to study law at private universities are wasting their money. Anybody wanting to receive the best law education should head for Ilorin.

NEXT: NOUN AND NUC; MATTERS ARISING

For how long will the NUC continue to grant extended “Provisional Approval” for courses offered by universities which proceed to dupe students who, at the end of their courses, are not accepted for Youth Service or, in the case of law, into the Nigerian Law School? Does it make sense to grant such approval for unlimited time – considering the consequences to students and parents? Should not some people file a Class Action Suit against NUC for messing up their lives?

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