In this piece STEPHEN UBIMAGO writes about the rot, extortions and restrictions that define the living and study condition of students of the Nigerian Law School in Lagos..
Students of the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School have cried out that the authorities of the institution are treating them rather poorly as though they are infants for whom no rights are supposed to accrue.
According to our source, pleading anonymity, the institution’s authorities fleece the students financially, and threaten them with query if they dared complain about their situation.
He added that the authorities hardly bother to improve on the living and study condition of the students in the country’s premiere Law School.
He maintained that the 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.
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,” our source revealed.
“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.”
Our source maintained that 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.
He said, “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.”
Restriction of students’ movement is also heavily enforced in the institution. Thus students cannot freely move in and out of the hostels or indeed the school itself.
“As we are leaving the hostel, we must leave our keys with the porters. And you will not be allowed to come in till the closing time, which is usually in the evening,” our source further indicated.
“If you get to the hostel at a certain time, they will not allow you to come in. They will tell you that they’ve been given instructions not to allow you to come into the hostel until the closing hour.
“So, if you happen to forget somethings in the hostel, and you decide to get back to the hostel to retrieve it, they will not allow you.”
Complaining bitterly about the cost of living and study in the school, our source maintained: “Cost of living in the Lagos Law School is too expensive.”
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.”
Speaking further on the living condition in the School, our 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.”
He regretted that student unionism is disallowed in the School; hence the students lack a representative body that can liaise with the authorities, ventilate their grievances and push for their interest.
According to him, “During our earliest days at the school we did induction, where we asked a lot of questions.
“But we were merely told to focus on the exam we came to the school to write; that we should overlook all the inadequacies and inconveniences, focus squarely on writing our exams and passing with our certificate.
“They told us that whatever we see should be borne with equanimity.”
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.”
Our source explained: “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!”
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 extenship, which will last for three months: one and half month each for court attachment and chamber attachment.
“Some students want to do their extenship 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?
The Body of Benchers, Senior Advocates, judges, lawyers generally, and concerned Nigerians must intervene to stop the shenanigans taking place at the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School.
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