Senator wants Nigerian Law School included as TETFUND beneficiary

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is seeking the amendment of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment, Etc.) Act, 2011, to make the Nigerian Law School a beneficiary under the Act.

Bamidele, who represents Ekiti Central in the upper legislative chamber recently led a debate on the matter.

In his words, “Mr President, distinguished colleagues, I respectfully rise to lead the debate on the general principles of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment, Etc) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Bill was read for the first time on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

“In a nutshell, the Bill seeks to amend sections 4, 7 and 20 of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment, Etc.) Act, 2011 (hereinafter referred to as the “principal Act”) to add the Nigerian Law School, as one of the benefiting tertiary institutions in Nigeria, for the purpose of disbursement of education tax, under the Act”

The Senator noted that historically, the establishment of the Nigerian Law School is targeted at inculcating the practical aspect of law in the to-be lawyers.

Further, he added that “By way of a proper context and historical basis for the proposed amendment, it is imperative to state here that the Report of the Unsworth Committee on Legal Education, which recommended the establishment of an indigenous law school for the vocational training of aspiring legal practitioners in Nigeria, conceived the Nigerian Law School, as a tertiary institution with the sole mandate of bridging the gap between the academic study of law in Nigerian or foreign universities, and the practical application of the law.

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“Based on this, it therefore becomes incumbent on the Nigerian Law School to ensure that students adapt their academic knowledge to the conditions of practice by introducing them to the practical skills and techniques of legal practice.

“There is no gainsaying that the Nigerian Law School is the only institution responsible for vocational training of lawyers in Nigeria. Undoubtedly, it is saddled with a critical statutory responsibility bearing in mind that lawyers play leading roles in the socio-economic condition of the country.”

He argued that lawyers, as judges, in private or corporate practice, in the academics or in government, immensely shape the society and the lives of their fellow human beings.

“It should be emphasised that over five decades, since the establishment of the Nigerian Law School, the institution which commenced operation in January 1963 with only eight students at its mono-campus in Lagos, has since expanded rapidly into a multicampus Law School, with its headquarters now in Bwari, Abuja and Five other campuses in Lagos, Enugu Kano, Bayelsa, and Yola”, he added.

Arguing further, Bamidele said: “The expansion of the Nigeria Law School from its former mono-campus system to the present multi-campus law school, was necessitated by the increasing demand for space at the school.

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“This inevitable expansion, of course, has its attendant challenges such as increasing demand for befitting learning facilities including lecture halls, E- Library and ICT deployment in the multiple campuses to enhance learning, provision of hostel accommodation and other infrastructural facilities suitable for effective training of globally competitive lawyers in Nigeria.

“Indeed, the training of the 21st century lawyer is becoming more and more expensive hence the need for this distinguished Senate to consider the inclusion of the Nigerian Law School, as one of the tertiary institutions to benefit from the infrastructural intervention projects of TETFUND, which is the main thrust of this amendment.”

Meanwhile, on the thrust of the proposed amendment, he said: “Specifically, this Bill seeks to amend section 4 of the principal act by inserting “the Nigerian Law School”, as one of the Tertiary Institutions, to benefit from the interventions of the TETFUND .

“Similarly, the distribution ratio of education tax to be disbursed by the TETFUND as provided in the principal act, is proposed for amendment from the extant ratio of 2:1:1 for Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education to a new distribution ratio of 2:1:1:1 for Universities, the Nigerian Law School, Polytechnics and Colleges, to take into account the proposed inclusion of the Nigerian Law School, as one of the beneficiaries of TETFUND interventions. The provision of section 20 of the principal Act is also proposed for amendment to reflect a new interpretation of the words ‘tertiary institution’ to mean universities, the Nigerian Law School, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, established in accordance with the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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The Senator appealed for support in the passage of the Bill, adding that it added no additional financial burden on the treasury of the Federal Government.

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues; considering the relevance of this Bill to the development of legal education in Nigeria in general and in particular, the Nigerian Law School, as it pertains to provision of infrastructural facilities that would create a conducive enabling environment for learning, I wish to appeal for the support of my distinguished colleagues for the passage of this Bill.

“In compliance with Order 77(3) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 as amended, the proposed Bill has no additional financial burden on the Treasury of the Federal government,” Opeyemi stated.

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