High-level politicking has ensued within Nigeria’s legal and political circles to reverse the earlier decision by government, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, to remove heads of the country’s law school.
Authoritative sources in the law schools, the Ministry of Justice and the presidency said there have been a lot of pushbacks by Tahir Mamman, the director general, his six deputies and some members of the board of the Council on Legal Education, who argue government should not be allowed to meddle in the affairs of the school.
Our sources said the pressure on Mr. Adoke had become so intense that Mr. Mamman and his colleagues might be allowed to remain while government tried to persuade stakeholders on the merit of their removal.
The Nigerian government had moved to fire Mr. Mamman, and his six deputies throwing the network of law schools into a mid session crisis.
There is one Nigerian Law School with headquarters in Abuja and five campuses in Lagos, Enugu, Kano, and recently Yenagoa – capital of president Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, Bayelsa – and Yola, capital of Adamawa state.
Deputy directors head the campuses, and although the federal government offered no reasons for the sudden sack coming when the school is in mid session, presidency sources in Abuja said it was based on the recommendation of Mr. Adoke.
President Jonathan initially approved the sack late Thursday with a condition that the officials remain in office until replacements are found for them.
Unofficial sources in Mr. Adoke’s office said the recommendation was based on claims that Mr. Mamman had spent five years in office.
But we later gathered that the move to sack the officials was part of moves by Mr. Adoke to reform the law school.
In 2010 or thereabouts, the Attorney General wrote to the chairman of the board of the Council for Legal Education, OCJ Okocha, saying he got authorization from President Jonathan to re-organize the law school.
He later forwarded a proposal for the reforms to Mr. Okocha who passed them on to board members earlier this month. There have been stiff resistance to the proposal, our sources say.
But at a meeting of Mr. Okocha’s board last week, it was resolved that the Council of Legal Education Act should be amended to provide a tenure of four years for the school’s director general with an option of reappointment for another term of four years.
Board members also determined at the meeting that the present DG was at the tail end of his second term of four years and should be removed.
The board also resolved that deputy director generals’ (DDGs) tenures should be limited to one term of five years with all DDGs who have served for more than 4 years to disengage forthwith and hand over to subordinates next to them in rank.
It was based on these resolutions of the board that the government moved to sack the officials.
But Mr. Mamman and his colleagues are resisting their removal and the director general might address a press conference Monday saying he was not aware of plans to remove any official of the law school.
Some stakeholders are also wondering why government is in a hurry to sack the officials even when the law setting up the school is yet to be amended as proposed by the OCJ Okocha-led board.
Messrs. Okocha and Mamman could not be reached for comments Saturday night while Mr. Adoke didn’t answer or return calls seeking his comments for this story.