Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and several stakeholders have made a passionate plea for the establishment of a new campus of the Nigerian Law School in Delta State.
At a public hearing organized by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on a ‘Bill to Amend the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act, several stakeholders argued that among the six additional campuses being considered, Orogun in Delta State has one of the most logically compelling case, especially in view of equity considerations and the huge number of Law graduates coming out of Delta and Edo states.
In a paper delivered by his Chief of Staff, Dr Otive Igbuzor, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Omo-Agege argued on the need to seriously consider all logical considerations that favour the siting of a new Law School in Delta State.
According to Omo-Agege, the proposed constitutional amendment’s aim to establish six more campuses of the Nigerian Law School in Kabba, Kogi (North Central Zone); Maiduguri, Borno (North East Zone); Argungu, Kebbi (North West Zone); Okija, Anambra (South East Zone); Orogun, Delta (South-South) and Ilawe in Ekiti (South West Zone) is very justifiable in the nation’s interest.
“My brief intervention here today is to assist this Committee to reach informed decisions in its duty of getting the National Assembly to pass this very important and highly consequential Bill” stated Senator Omo-Agege.
Omo-Agege explained that while each of the nation’s six geopolitical zones currently has one campus of the Law School, nothing forbids having two or three quality campuses in a zone with a high number of Law graduates.
Arguing that the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters is guided by the need to give every citizen of Nigeria a sense of belonging as enunciated in Section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Senator Omo-Agege asserted that “Equity and fairness are indispensable guiding lights of statesmanship and good public leadership.”
The Deputy Senate President further urged the Committee to consider the historical and structural realities of the South-South geo-political zone made up of three clusters – the old Bendel State which became today’s Delta and Edo States in 1991, the old Cross River State, which became the present Cross River and Akwa-Ibom states in 1991; and the old Rivers States which is now the present Rivers and Bayelsa States in 1991.
“Distinguished Senators of our Republic, I have already told you and it is incontrovertible that Yenagoa, Bayelsa State – representing the old Rivers State (now Rivers and Bayelsa States) cluster – already has a campus of the Nigerian Law School; there is NONE in the other two clusters of Bendel State (Delta/Edo States) and Cross River State (now Cross River/Akwa Ibom States).
“Herein lies the issue for objective determination, and it elicits these fundamental questions:
“Is it fair, equitable and just to locate all statutorily approved or establish campuses of the Nigerian Law School for the South-South zone in only one cluster to the predetermined detriment and exclusion of the other two clusters?
“If one cluster takes all duly approved campuses of the Nigerian Law School for the region, will that give our fellow citizens in the other two clusters of the South-South “a sense of belonging” in accordance with the spirit of Section 318(1) of the 1999 constitution?
“I am convinced beyond any iota of doubt that guided by the spirit of unquestionable patriotism and ‘Live and let’s live’, this Committee of eminent statesmen will always rise objectively in defence of what is right, equitable and just; this is an occasion to do so for posterity, and I most respectfully ask you to do so to protect the excellent judgment of the Most Distinguished Senator Smart Adeyemi in proposing the siting of the new campus of the Nigerian Law School for the South-South in Orogun, Delta State – representing the old Bendel cluster of today’s Delta and Edo States.
“It is the right thing to do; the fact that the people of Orogun have publicly indicated their unqualified and unanimous support for the rapid, seamless and excellent infrastructural development of the proposed campus is an added incentive.
“Mr Chairman Sir, still on the sanctity of facts, it should be quickly mentioned that at the moment, the Delta/Edo States cluster has 7 universities with 7 accredited law faculties while the Rivers/Bayelsa States cluster has 3 universities with 3 law faculties.
“This fact again clearly supports the need to establish at least a campus of the Nigerian Law School in the Delta/Edo States cluster because it produces the highest number of Law graduates in the entire South-South region, and this is incontestable,” Senator Omo-Agege stated.
In addition to several Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, various professional and community groups, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), FIDA, Body of Benchers, Urhobo Youth Forum and others were at the public hearing.
Eminent personalities present include NBA Chairman, Mr Olumide Akpata, former NBA Chairman, Chief OCJ Okocha, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, Federal Commissioner representing the south-south zone in the National Assembly Service Commission, Chief Francis Atanomeyovwi and some traditional rulers.