Established in Lagos in 1963, with eight students, the Nigerian Law School (NLS) was established by the Federal Government to provide a Nigerian legal education to foreign-trained lawyers, and to provide practical training for aspiring legal practitioners in the country.
Since its inception, the school has provided legal knowledge to over 90,000 students, some of whom have become world-class legal practitioners.
Last week, the Council of Legal Education rolled out thec drums to mark the school’s golden jubilee. The event hosted several alumni, including Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who chaired the occasion.
In his remark, Olanikpekun who noted that he was delighted to be an alumnus of the school, caused a stir when he said: “We must come to terms with the fact that no government likes lawyers.”
The comment was greeted with spontaneous applause from the audience.
Olanipekun added: “With the exception of governments headed by lawyers, no government wants to see a lawyer. So, we look up to the day when Nigeria will be headed by a lawyer, who would change the destiny of the nation for good.”
He stressed the need to ensure the growth of legal education in Nigeria, saying: “I am a lawyer because I passed through the Nigerian Law School. Same applies to everyone here. As such, we have to put our hands together to ensure the growth and sustenance of our collective alma mater.”
The Deputy Director-General of the campus, Mrs Toun Adebiyi, praised Olanipekun for honouring the invitation to attend the event, despite his busy schedule. Calling for supports from lawyers, Mrs Adebiyi urged the alumni to contribute to an endowment fund created for development and to improve the quality of teaching in the school.
This was followed by an anniversary lecture by Dr Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), who is also an author. Ms. Ronke Osho, the Acting Head of Administration, read the profile of the lecturer.
Speaking on the topic: Legal education and the legal profession: A reality check, Ajogwu said it was regrettable that education standard was on a free fall, noting that the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards improving the quality of teaching was responsible for the presence of quacks in the profession.
He said: “Sound legal education is a prerequisite for the production of sound legal practitioners. Give a man a fish, and you would have guaranteed him of a meal. But teach him how to fish, and you would have empowered him for a life time. No nation can be built on falsehood. It is brains, not resources that develop a nation. The Nigerian legal system has produced the good, the bad and the excellent. What we must come to terms with is the fact that, the face of law has changed, and if legal education in Nigeria must survive, it must move with the trend.”
The Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Tahir Mamman, said 50 years in the life of an institution was an important achievement. “We have decided to roll out our drums and celebrate in the various campuses. “We celebrate the achievements and contributions of this citadel to the development of law in Nigeria, and we look forward to a time when the society can come in and support it.”
The highpoint of the event was the donation to the endowment fund, which was opened by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), an alumnus of the school.
In his brief address, Fashola noted that he was fortunate to have studied in the Lagos campus because “I met people who, in many ways, helped to shape my knowledge of law.”
He went on: “Shortly after I became governor, I was invited by the Old Boys Association of my secondary school, but when I got there, I discovered, to my disappointment, that its structures had disappeared. I could remember my seat when I was a student there. But here, I am impressed that the structures of the Nigerian Law School are still intact.”
A law student, Favour Ede, said she was inspired by the status of the guests at the event, saying: “This is an indication that the legal education has come of age and is still growing.”
Guests at the event included former Governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was represented by the National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire; Senator Daisy Danjuma and Mr O.C.J. Okocha (SAN), chairman of the Council of Legal Education.
Others were Deans of Law in Babcock University and Lagos State University (LASU); former Chief Judge of Lagos State Ade Alabi; Justice Rita Ajumogobia; Chief Judges of Ekiti and Ondo states and members of the Body of Benchers.