The Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School which is under construction in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has finally received the endorsement of the Nigerian Senate.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters said after it carried out an oversight function at the construction site that the campus has come to stay.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, Chairman of the Committee said of their visit to Port Harcourt, “It was important for us to come here because we are not going to just write any report and take any decision based on sentiment.”
Stressing that” this is a nonpartisan legislative action”, Bamidele noted that the senators were impressed by the quality of work already done by the Rivers State Government.
“And we are really excited about this for the future of the legal profession, which is our own primary constituency”, Senator Bamidele went on, “because ours is a committee where virtually all members are lawyers and members of this profession.”
According to the Committee Chairman, the Rivers State is boldly setting a high standard for legal education in the country.
He acknowledged that the Port Harcourt Campus would in the long run create much needed jobs which would be beneficial to the people.
At the Government House in Port Harcourt, Wike spoke of the poor conditions existing in Law School campuses.
“Most of us attended the Nigerian Law School in Lagos. Even at that time, it was not easy to have accommodation within the Law School.
“But at least, we were able to attend classes. So, it is reasonable for everybody to say there is need to increase the carrying capacity.
“That must be done with objectivity; that must be done with facts; that must not be done by sentiment”, the Rivers Governor noted.
Two years ago, when he attended the Call to Bar ceremony at the Abuja campus of the Nigerian Law School, Wike said he was taken aback by what he saw.
The situation, he disclosed led to the decision by his administration to build 900-bed hostels and a 1,500-capacity auditorium for students on the Yenagoa Campus.
It also resulted to the plan to embark on the construction of a new campus in Port Harcourt.
“From the record I’ve checked, they’ve (Nigerian Law School) never got more than N61 million to fund the Law School yearly.
“I made a special appeal for support to the Council of Legal Education to rehabilitate the campus in Abuja, and the Director General said no, we have more problems in Yenagoa, leave Abuja. You’ll never allow your slave to attend the campus in Yenagoa.
“I want to thank the DG for being a true Nigerian. As I speak to you today, the Rivers State government is investing not less than N5.1 billion in the Yenagoa campus.
“What is our interest? Our interest is to contribute to the development of legal education in Nigeria.”
Wike stated that as result of the inability of the Federal Government to adequately fund the Nigerian Law School, state government that desire to establish such a campus ought to be free to approach the Council of Legal Education for approval.
Senator Smart Adeyemi had approached the Senate with a bill seeking to establish two campuses of the Nigerian Law School in each of the country’s geopolitical zones.
In spite of the fact that the Council of Legal Education and the Federal Government both granted approval to the Rivers State Government, the bill sponsored by Adeyemi for some reason did not take cognizance of Port Harcourt where a campus is currently being built.
The construction of the Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt will cost the Rivers State government N16 billion.
Members of the Senate Committee were led on the inspection of the law school project by Governor Nyesom Wike.
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