In the concluding part of its campaign against what it termed injustice against two major institutions in the country, and institutional graft, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), on Wednesday, highlighted what it called persecution of the law graduates and the law faculty of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) by the Council for Legal Education.
Intersociety observed in a statement issued by its Board Chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, and Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Programme, Barr. Obianuju Joy Igboeli, that NOUN has also undergone similar persecution in recent past in the hands of a number of government oversight or regulatory bodies including the National Universities Commission (NUC), leading to its triumphant victory against the NUC and others after resilient struggle.
“NOUN, apart from being one of the existing 28 Federal Universities in Nigeria accredited by the NUC, offering courses and programs recognised and accredited by the NUC; is a unique or specialist University with a mixture of student-facilitator/lecturer (face-to-face) and distance learning built on advanced Information Communication Technology (ICT). That is to say that NOUN is not an analogue University but an ICT powered or digital University. It is also an integral part of the global open Universities’ system and one of over 60 accredited and recognised open Universities in the world. NOUN shares and exchanges researches and publications with other open universities including the UK Open University.) Intersociety pointed out.
While tracing the roots of NOUN, the group recalls that like other open universities including the UK Open University (one of the best ten Universities in the world), was originally created as “typewriter and correspondence or post office communication universities”, but has undergone series of restructuring and fully integrated into ICT powered Global Information and Communication System, otherwise called “Global Village” or “ICT Revolution”.
The phrase “Global Village”, in turn, Intersociety also pointed me out in a long historical background, “originated from the concept of ‘New World’ developed in the 1500s during expeditions or territorial discoveries by the now western world. The areas named ‘New World’ are now called ‘the Americas’ (North America, South America and the USA). The concept of ‘Global Village’ was coined and invented by a Briton named, Marshal McLuhan in the 1500s, who defined ‘Global Village’ as ‘a village cleared by a high level of information technology’. In 1989, a period of over 480 years after it was invented, and on the eve of collapse of the cold war, the phrase: ‘global village’ was dusted up, operationally defined and adopted as a global language and use by the United Nations.”
According to the group, the role of institutional graft as one of the two deadly viruses massively deployed in the ongoing persecution of NOUN’s law faculty and its graduates is clearly understandable in that NOUN is not an extortionist University capable of amassing tens or hundreds of millions of naira for the purpose of ‘meeting the standards and specifications’ of the likes of Council for Legal Education. Till date, we are not aware of any service or approval in any government institution in Nigeria that can be obtained on merit without “rubbing the palms of the relevant personnel or officials.”
“Nigerians and members of the international community are at this juncture invited to take a clinical and critical look at the activities of officers of the Nigerian security forces on Nigerian roads particularly the Nigeria Police Force and the Custom Service. As a matter of fact, the best way to assess Gen. Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption policy is to visit Nigeria roads and observe roadblocks manned by the Nigeria Police Force and others. That is to say that the level of extortion and other corrupt conducts going on at the roadblocks across Nigeria is shocking and alarming.
“In all these, the authorities of the Council for Legal Education cannot extricate themselves from the ravaging institutional virus under complaint. We are aware that accreditation of courses and professional programmes by the likes of NUC and the Council for Legal Education are very capital intensive in Nigeria. The question now is: what is responsible for ‘capital intensive’ nature of accrediting these courses and professional programmes in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions? The express answer to it is institutional graft! Also why should a legal practitioner in Nigeria spend through his or her nose to be made a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN? The answer, too, is institutional graft!
“In the 2012/13 academic session, Intersociety recalls, law undergraduates of the NOUN participated in the National Mute Court Competition and emerged first out of other competitors from Law Faculties of 123 other accredited Universities; leading to their representation of Nigeria in the International Mute Court Competition in the USA. Many, if not most of the undergraduates of NOUN are holders of University degrees from other universities. They include lawyers, professors, engineers, Catholic Priests, Nuns and Sisters, Pentecostal Pastors, Anglican Priests, Muslim Clerics, leading Nollywood actors and actresses, human rights activists, journalists, judges and magistrates, doctorate and masters’ degree holders, senior security officers from the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, Civil Defense Corps, Custom Service, Immigration Service, Prisons Service, Road Safety Corps; DSS, NIA, to mention but a few. NOUN is also responsible for the production of first indigenous Criminologists and Graduates of Security Studies in Nigeria.
“It, therefore, saddens our heart as why the public policy makers and regulators in Nigeria have virally chosen to always set the country backward and refused to grow and change. Why on earth should accreditations and recognitions be given by the likes of NUC and Council for Legal Education to courses and professional programmes in other Universities in Nigeria including ‘bushy Universities and glorified secondary schools’, while a specialist and ICT powered University like NOUN is deliberately schemed out?
“NOUN, on the other hand, is also victimised by BBC (born before computer) virus afflicting the headship or authorities of the LCE and others. It is important to state here that jurisprudence and legal practice in Nigeria have remained locomotive and typewriter based. Electronic Jurisprudence and ICT powered legal practice have eluded Nigeria. As we speak, a wide debate is ongoing in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) between born before computer lawyers and ICT age and compliant lawyers whether or not to use electronic voting method in its forthcoming 2016 NBA general elections or not.
“The age-going injustice against officers of the Nigerian Traffic Warden Service (TWS) is another area worth mentioning. The TWS has institutionally been enslaved by successive authorities of the Nigeria Police Force since 1975. Through Decree No.21 of 1975, the TWS was annexed and colonised by the NPF till date and incorporated into the NPF Act & Regulations. The worse of it all is code and administrative ranking and promotion stagnancy whereby a TWS officer can never rise in rank statutorily beyond equivalent of Police Inspector or Senior Traffic Warder, whereas his or her course-mate in the NPF can rise to the rank of Commissioner or even IGP. Officers of the TWS, till date, are not allowed headship of the Police Traffic Warden department. A fire-brigade approach was made in 2002 by federal authorities whereby two ranks of Assistant Superintendent of Traffic (AST) and Deputy Superintendent of Traffic (DST) were added, yet the age-long injustice has remained unaddressed.
“We conclusively say: enough of this chronic institutional backwardness, injustice and persecution in Nigeria by public policy regulators! The authorities of the Council for Legal Education and the NUC must rid themselves of obvious BBC virus and embrace ICT revolution. As a matter of fact, they must go digital!”
Source News Express