Human Rights Activist, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh has petitioned the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja.
In the petition sighted by TNL, Mr. Jimoh is requesting for the immediate investigation, explanations, and or justification on complaints of alleged extortion and usual restrictions on students by the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School.
According to him, there have reports of usual extortion on students by some persons in the premiere campus, and therefore wants the authority to look into the issue before any other necessary legal move is taken.
11th February, 2019.
Nigerian Law School,
HUMBLE REQUEST FOR IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION, EXPLANATIONS AND OR JUSTIFICATION ON COMPLAINTS OF ALLEGED EXTORTION AND UNUSUAL RESTRICTIONS ON STUDENTS BY THE LAGOS CAMPUS OF THE NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL
1. The above subject matter refers, please.
2. I am a legal practitioner and a human rights activist. On the 8th day of February, 2019, there was a report in circulation via the social media, especially as posted on a blog-www.nigerialawyer.com with the caption ‘Reign Of Extortion, Restrictions At Nigerian Law School, Lagos’ where in some reports/complaints were made against the Lagos Campus of the Law School. The complaints/report which necessitates these humble requests to you for an immediate investigation, explanations or justification for the allegations. Please find a printed copy of the published report/complaints accompanying this letter.
3. Furthermore, as can be seen in the said report/complaints, the Lagos Campus of the Law School has been accused of the following but not limited to the herein itemized complaints which I humbly request for an immediate investigation into in order for the Nigerian Law School to give explanation or justification if any, before I embark on any further step(s) legally necessary against the Nigerian Law School where necessary:
i. the institution’s authorities fleece the students financially, and threaten them with query if they dared complain about their situation;
ii. hardly bother to improve on the living and study condition of the students in the country’s premiere Law School;
iii. insufferable condition to which the students are subjected is peculiar to the Lagos campus of the School, since there is no parallel of such in the other five campuses of the institution – Yenagoa, Abuja, Enugu, Yola and Kano;
iv. about three months ago, the students were asked to pay N6, 000 in order for the School to print T-Shirts for them. This sum is quite apart from the regular school fees of N296, 000 paid by the students. But till date, neither have the T-Shirts been delivered to the students nor the sum returned.
“We were made to pay extra N6, 000 which was not part of our school fees,”.
“They said they will use it to print Law School T-Shirt for us. But up till now, we have not seen any T-Shirt.
“Apart from that, we are not expected to complain. They told us that we have rights; but we cannot exercise the right; that we should just endure, because they said the Lagos campus is the best Law School campus in Nigeria, since it produced 71 first class at the last call to bar.
“Any time you talk, they threaten you that they will issue you query. This is because by the time a student has one or two queries, he will not be able to graduate.”
v. The students also have axe to grind with Mr. Nasiru Tijani, the Director, NLS, Lagos campus, over the fact that the water being supplied to the School is brownish and gives off an offensive smell.
“The water here in the hostel is bad. It is brownish. Every student in the Law School must wear white. But we cannot wash our white shirts with the water, because the water is brownish. We rather give it to the drycleaner. And this increases our cost and puts pressure on our pockets.”
‘He reveled that the students were expected to only buy their texts from the School’s book-shop, following which the book must be stamped.
The idea, behind this, he alleged, is that books not so stamped risked confiscation by the School’s authorities.
To rub it in, the textbooks bought from the School’s bookshop are very expensive compared to those bought outside.
“The textbooks sold in the Law School bookshop cost an arm and a leg. A book which is sold for say N2, 000 outside is usually sold for N6, 000 in the School’s book shop,” he said.
“For example, the text on Civil Litigation costs N6, 000 in the School; whereas outside, the book is sold for only N2, 500.
“They actually don’t allow us to buy outside the School. They threaten us with raiding our hostel. Since we are usually in the class all through the day, there is no way we can tell what is happening in the hostel, because we leave our keys with the porters.
“So, in our absence they can burst into the hostel and confiscate any textbook that does not bear the School’s stamp. That is to let you know the extent to which they’ve been able to restrict us and treat us like kids.
“The lecturers tell us that we must not go outside School bookshop to buy textbooks with the threat that they will raid us.”
“They have however never made good that threat,” he added.
He insisted that the lecturers or indeed the institution’s authorities never made any attempt to explain to the students why these restrictions were imposed on them.
He said, “No, they gave us no explanations. They only told us not to go outside to buy our textbooks.
“Although they have not made good their threat, they have said that one day they will raid our hostels.
“As it is, we are expected to take our textbooks to the class, especially the statutes. And those who sneak out to buy the text-books take the books to the class, but hide them.
“And there is another way they hide them, like when they are going to the class, they tuck it into their luggage and lock it up.
“To a very large extent, about 95 percent of the students are thereby forced to buy the very expensive books being sold in the School’s bookshop.
“For example, there is the book “Law in Practice in Nigeria.” it is authored by one Obi Okoye. There is another textbook, “Corporate Law” written by one Badmus.
“In the Law School Bookshop each of the books cost N6, 000; but outside, it is only N2500. In fact there is no textbook being sold in the Law School bookshop that costs less than N6, 000,” he further alleged.
“Even ordinary statutes that are sold for N1, 000 outside are sold for N4, 000, N4, 500 inside the Law School.’
vi. Speaking further on the living condition in the School, the source said,
“In every room at the Law School you have seven students. And you have 14 students attached to one toilet and bathroom. This is because two rooms, each of which carries seven students, are serviced by one toilet and bathroom.
“There is a way the rooms of the hostels are built. Two rooms are linked by a toilet and bathroom.
“I cannot say that is the original plan, but that is the way we met it. But in Abuja you have just two persons to a room. There, they have good reading tables, in fact good facilities. This is unlike what obtains in Lagos.”
vii. Unlike any other campus of the NLS, students are made to part with a whooping and unconscionable N1million to be able to secure accommodation in the School’s so-called “Executive Hostels.”
“I can tell you that there are hostels here where you pay N1million.
“In the Law School here, we have two types of hostels: the regular ones and the ones they call Executive Hostels.
“You pay N1million for the Executive Hostel. It is one room to a student at the Executive Hostel. The N1million is outside the school fees. Yet this hostel that goes at the rate of N1million belongs to the Nigerian Law School!”
viii. On whether the water supply situation in the Executive Hostels is better than what obtains in the regular hostels, at least given the extortionate amount students pay to secure accommodation in them, he said, “It is the same thing.”
He added, “And when we don’t have water or the water supply runs out, they are also affected the very same way.
“The water smells both in the regular and executive hostels. So, every student, whether rich or poor, buys the water he or she drinks.”
Despite these extortions and excesses, the students are hardly allowed to enjoy uninterrupted accommodation in the hostels for the full period they are in the School.
According to him, “I was surprised that the during the Xmas period, the authorities shut the hostel, refusing to allow even students who reside in far places in the country like Zamfara from staying in the hostel, despite knowing that the cost of transportation during the Yuletide is prohibitive, and also knowing it was more economical for the students to stay put.
“This is because, even if they travel, their parents might not be able to afford giving them more than N20, 000, which will even be consumed by transport back to school.
“So many students who were living in faraway parts of the country had insisted on staying in the hostel during the Xmas season.
“But bluntly, the authorities declined their request, saying everybody should go home for the Christmas.
“Even those who paid N1million for the hostel were also chased out.
“Now, in the next two months we will be going for our externship, which will last for three months: one and half month each for court attachment and chamber attachment.
“Some students want to do their externship in Lagos, so they could leave their hostel rooms in the morning to the courts or the chambers they will be attached to and return later in the day.
“But the Director here is putting his foot down, saying ‘no,’ that everybody must vacate the hostel during the three month period of attachment.
“Before our set, the School had allowed the students to stay in the hostel during the attachment period.
They were however made to pay extra N50, 000 for them to be able to stay, notwithstanding the fact that they’d paid school fees that included accommodation fee.
“Today however, they’re telling us that we might not be obliged even payment of the said N50, 000 unlike in the past.
“They say we are licensees and not tenants; and so we do not have an option in the matter – that a licensee does not enjoy exclusive possession.
“The sad part of it all is that this is peculiar to the Lagos campus of the NLS. In Abuja, as we were told, the Director there even made sure that cows were slaughtered and used to prepare food for the students you decided to stay over and spend the Xmas in the School.
“But here we were ordered to leave!”
If the foregoing is anything to go by, then the questions must be asked: Why are students of the Lagos campus of the NLS subjected to these most superfluous and unconscionable restrictions and extortions?
Is there a deliberate policy in place, which is furtively promoting such discriminatory conditions of study and living between the various campuses of the Law School?
4. Sir, I have deliberately extracted the above complaints directly from the report so that the complaints can be easily discerned. Other necessary complaints are contained in the said report accompanying this letter.
5. Furthermore, what this letter requests is an immediate investigation into all the allegations/complaints and to revert back to me as soon as possible on any explanation and or justification or report and decisions of the institution on its findings. I therefore humbly recommend that any person found to have corruptly enriched himself and or misconducted himself or herself and or extorted the students among the various staff of the Lagos Campus of the Nigerian Law School should be dealt with accordingly.
6. Nevertheless, I am of the humble view that extorting students on the campus is an act of financial corruption which I urge you Sir, to place necessary restrictions on to preempt any of such occurrences, assuming the allegation of financial corruption is false. And the issue of payment for T-shirt should be investigated to ensure that students who have paid for same are not denied its provision. Also, the use of campus facilities ought to be equally available to students on campus which is a government-owned institution, without any discrimination. So, I urge you to forestall any inclination of discriminating among students in the provisions and or enjoyment of campus facilities. Furthermore, the I humbly recommend that the allegation of bad and unhygienic toilet facilities and water in circulation as well as overcrowded occupation of hostel rooms is part of the welfare that the institution is urged by this letter to improve in order to avoid any ailment of students or the contract of communicable diseases. Also, the issue of reading materials on campus in my humble view ought to be optional as to the convenience of students to choose whether to purchase his materials on campus or not. There should be no threat or intimidation or blackmail of punishment for anyone who fails to buy his materials on campus. In my humble view, compelling students to buy books on campus with consequences for failure to do so would have been contrary to the aims and objectives for establishing the institution. To the best of my knowledge, the Nigerian Law School was not established for the sale of books or other materials rather adequate legal trainings for the students undergoing their trainings should be paramount to the management of the institution. Furthermore, I implore the management of the institution to build on a more cordial relationship between the students, the management and the institution in such a way that confidence and competence are built in those students.
7. Finally, the Nigerian Law School remains my pride and I would not overlook such report that alleges the institution with the above enormous complaints, without taking steps such as the step that I have taken by this letter to hear the side of the institution on the whole saga.
8. While I await your further correspondence on the entire complaints, please accept the assurances of my warm regards.
9. Yours faithfully,
Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq.
Principal Counsel/Human Rights Activist.