With the take-off of the Faculty of Law at Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta State, its management said the faculty was established due to its love for justice and the believe that its graduates will help defend the defenseless in the society. Funmi Ogundare reports

Having satisfied the requirements of the National Universities Commission (NUC) two years ago for the take-off of Edwin Clark University (ECU), Kiagbodo, Delta State with Faculties of Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, the management saw the need to introduce the law faculty because of the proprietor’s love for justice. It is believed that this would enable its graduates to defend the defenseless in the society.

Named after the late legal luminary, Fredrick Rotimi Williams, the faculty already has structures like lecture halls, moot court, offices, library and e-library, as well as an auditorium for law students.

Being a lawyer and ensuring that people do not suffer oppression and injustice, the Proprietor, Chief Edwin Clark told THISDAY that “having being a lawyer for over 50 years, I felt it will be a good thing for the law faculty to be established in the university.

“That has been my dream and I know very well that the faculty will be established because of my love for law. People have asked me why I studied law, my parents have always believed in the rule of law, my great grandfather was one of the first class chiefs at that time and he hated oppression and injustice.”

Clark said he was encouraged by a colleague of his, the Proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, who donated N2 million towards the development of the institution and also told him that he had his faculty of law the year his university was set up. “That gave me the courage and that is why I continued to pressurise the Council of Legal Education and the NUC.”

He said his desire to name the faculty after Williams was to encourage the best of students who want to study and are interested in fighting evil in the society.

“That should be an encouragement for all students who will pass through the institution; eminent lawyers have also donated books with their names inscribed on them to the university and the students will see that these are good lawyers. I am looking forward to the development of the faculty of law and that will be one of the best in the country that will train lawyers, practicing lawyers and academic lawyers.”

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Timothy Olagbemiro, while highlighting the quality of law students the institution intends to produce said, “we could see this faculty growing to more than 250 students during the next 10 years, we hope we would start having masters and PhD degrees in law.

“We see them impacting the community; they will be allowed to have an idea of law and to know their rights as citizens of Nigeria. They will be involved in the community, assist them and hear their cases. There are a lot of lawyers in the state who are reputable, they will be their mentors.”

He said the faculty’s auditorium and moot court were furnished along with all other completed university faculty buildings such as hostels, auditorium, library, cafeteria, medical centre, community centre laboratory buildings, among others and were made ready for inspection and subsequent use by December 2014.

“By February 2015, the NUC came for the final inspection of our facilities in our Faculty of Science and Humanities, Social and Management Sciences, which were their mandate. We requested them to take a look at our law school out of curiosity; they were amazed at our level of preparedness. They were very impressed with the beautiful structures, facilities, books, the moot court and furnishings, at that point, they could not report anything on it, as they could only approve two faculties as foundation faculties for new universities.

“In May 2015, we received our license from the federal government to operate as a university, as well as NUC approval to start our two faculties- Science and Humanities, Social and Management Sciences. We admitted students in September 2015 and began our academic session which ended in June 2016.”

Asked if the institution will be benchmarked with other institutions in its category both locally and internationally, Olagbemiro said, “the NUC has a benchmark for LLB degree programmes and so also is the Nigerian Law school. There is a minimum standard which institutions must attain to get accreditation. The areas include course work content, work load of students, course distribution, facilities, staffing, lecture space, library holdings, classroom sitting capacity, staff distribution by cadre, among others.

“The university can provide more than those which were given as minimum. When the NUC came to examine our facilities, they confessed that we have more than the minimum to even start in terms of the quality and quantity of the resources they saw on the ground. The proprietor and chancellor demonstrated his love for his profession judging by the facilities and whom he named the faculty after.”

On what will make the faculty stand out, the VC said: “It is required that we have a lot of books along with a robust ICT system which must be internet connected. In our Law Faculty, we have a lot of resources which can be accessed outside Nigeria, complemented with a faculty car and students’ bus. The proprietor has put in a lot of funds in recognition of the special place the faculty occupies in his mind. As vice-chancellor, l have special interest in aesthetic particularly when it comes to academic buildings.

“Our quality of teaching staff is another attractive factor; we have a very good staff mix in cadre, quality and gender. Majority of our staff here are trained both in Nigeria, US and UK. They have mixed degrees which had exposed them to Kawasaki culture and practices in Nigeria and overseas. This is the beauty and richness of our law faculty, and they will bring in their international experience to enhance their students’ training.”

Asked how the university intends to drive the law programme with e-learning, he said, “these days most libraries are accessed through electronic media with internet connection. Here, we will ensure that our students also access their lectures through IT as it is done worldwide. We have made it robust and gotten wide band-width that will allow our students access it anytime. It is very important that a university must run its law school with a robust IT system. We live in a global village, and we must be compliant.”

The VC said the facilities and the quality of legal research will make the difference adding, “we are not re-inventing the wheel in our Faculty of Law. To say so will be superfluous. It also depends on the quality of legal research that we have been able to muster that will determine our level of competence and therefore the quality of delivery either as a practicing lawyer or as a judge delivering judgment, or as a professor, vis-a-vis the calibre of students coming out from the institution.

“We intend to be producing young lawyers to the labour market, and indeed certified in true character and learning, we intend to make the faculty tower in all areas of academic and moral endeavours, above all faculties of law in the country. In the next five years, we will be graduating students that will be going to law school and perform well. In terms of facilities, we hope to expand what we have now.”

On the institution’s efforts to ensure that law graduates gets employment after graduation, Olagbemiro said, “I believe that university education is for life not only for school. We have a basic liberal arts education embedded in our curriculum which is basic and broad. We intend also to infuse entrepreneurial experience and skills acquisition in strategic planning in order to get our graduates not to seek to be employed, but to seek to employ and create their own wealth. Therefore as much as possible, we will emphasise entrepreneurship skills acquisition.

“We are having these courses embedded in our entrepreneurship studies. For students of engineering who have entrepreneurship skills, by the time they leave here and with a liberal arts training they will be their own bosses. It is anticipated that we shall utilise our linkage with institutions in UK and US to enhance the quality of our degrees, our staff, as well as our curriculum. Visits to other territories as well as joint research will be good avenues for these benefits.”

He said the university currently has linkages and has signed MoU with these institutions for students and staff exchange, joint research, joint seminar series, as well as dual degrees: Coventry University, UK and Reinhardt University, Waleska, Georgia, USA. “We are in partnership with Faculty of Engineering, Warwick University, UK on Ecological Studies, as well as Indiana University, Eastern Campus on Rural Studies.”