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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Nigerian Lawyers React To Mass Failure in Law School Bar Exams

Olarenwaju Adesola Onadeko, Director General, Nigeria Law School

                            Olarenwaju Adesola Onadeko, Director General, Nigeria Law School

Nigerian Law students during their call to the bar ceremony

Some eminent lawyers in Lagos on Tuesday called for more dedication by students in their educational pursuit in the country to promote academic excellence and prevent mass failure.

The lawyers made the call in separate interviews with NAN while reacting to the poor performance by students of the Nigerian Law School (NLS) in the 2013/2014 Bar examination.

NAN reports that the Council of Legal Education recently released the result of the final bar examination of the Nigerian Law School held in August.

A total of 5,841 regular candidates registered for the examination across the six campuses of the Law School but only about 30 per cent scaled through successfully.

The outcome of the result had, therefore, generated questions from several individuals and bodies on the commitment of students to studies.

Ade Ipaye, the Attorney-General of Lagos State and Commissioner for Justice said the examination was properly conducted. “I was a part of the process and that enables me to confirm that it was all properly done.

“The law school is producing professionals and so, it has no choice but to stick to certain minimum standards.

“While it is doing that, it is also monitoring all campuses of the law school, to ensure that they have good lecturers, facilities, and conducive atmosphere, and I confirm to you that it has not been easy.

“Unless you are saying that we should lower the standard of the law school, I can tell you that the bar result is not the fault of the NLS.

“It behooves on the universities responsible for the training of these students and also on the students themselves, to realise that they are faced with a major challenge and ensure they put in their best.”
Ipaye noted that most of the candidates who failed the examination were mostly those having re-sit, adding that from all indications they were not prepared.

“I would not say there is something fishy about the bar results; most of the failures recorded, were majorly from re-sit students, in fact, nearly all the student that had to take the re-sit failed.
Ade Ipaye Photo:
Ade Ipaye

“Bar exam is about preparation and I can say that these re-sit students do not have adequate preparation, since they do not stay in school but have to come from home.”

Ipaye said that following this development, the NLS had decided to subsequently arrange classes for re-sit candidates, so as to ensure that they were well prepared before venturing into bar exams.

Also, Bayo Ojo, a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said that the outcome of the bar exam only served as a wake-up call to other students.

“I do not see any form of victimisation from the bar results as contended; if a student has performed poorly, it will definitely become evident in the result.”

Ojo advocated a decentralisation of the NLS, so as to ensure that examinations could be taken in other areas of the federation.

“It is not necessary that all students must proceed to Abuja to sit for the bar examinations and that is why I have always advocated a decentralisation of the NLS.

“This will ensure that students can sit for the examination in other areas like Lagos,” he said.

On his part, Mr Fidelis Oditah, the President of the Nigerian Branch of the International Law Association, bemoaned the decline in legal studies in the country.
Oditah, a Queen’s Counsel, said that the Bar result was a reflection of the collapsing educational system in the country.

“I am aware that the failure rate in the bar exam this year is quite higher than the past years and I must say that to an extent, this is a reflection of the collapsing educational system.

“Those of us in practice who have been recruiting young lawyers know that the quality of law students that come to us is very low.

“Although, there must be a genius out of every jungle but I can say that there is insufficient number of high quality graduates coming into the profession,” he said

Also speaking on the issue, Mr Taiwo Taiwo, the immediate past Chairman of the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, called for more seriousness on the part of law students.

“The standard of the legal profession cannot be diminished because of the so called slogan “let my people go”; that should not be encouraged in the legal system.

“If the students are studious enough, I see no reason why they should not pass.”
Taiwo, therefore, stressed the need to preserve the standard of legal education in the country.

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