Nigerians have taken to social media to blame the Minister of Education, Mamman Tahir, a former Vice Chancellor of the Baze University, Abuja, for alleged roles played in the university’s flagrant violation of its admission quota for its law faculty.
The Council of Legal Education (CLE), the regulatory body for law education in Nigeria, recently imposed a five-year ban on admission of students into the law faculty of the institution, citing a breach of strict admission rules.
The council accused the university of violating its approved admission quota of 50 students per session.
The temporary ban followed the review of the accreditation panel to the university and was contained in a statement signed by the CLE’s acting Secretary and Director of Administration, Aderonke Osho.
But Nigerians on social media are knocking Mr Mamman, accusing him of complicity and overseeing the university’s violation of the admission quota while serving as the institution’s vice-chancellor.
Until his appointment in August as the education minister by President Bola Tinubu, Mr Mamman was the vice-chancellor of the Abuja-based private university which is reportedly owned by the vice-presidential candidate of the opposition Labour Party in the February 2023 general elections, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
Mr Mamman also served as the Director General of the Nigerian Law School (NLS) from 2005 to 2013.
Accreditation panel findings
Speaking for the CLE, Ms Osho said the decision to temporarily ban the admission of law students at Baze University was taken at the council’s quarterly meeting held on 23 November after considering the report of the accreditation panel to the university’s faculty of law.
She said the panel, led by the Director-General, of Nigerian Law School (NLS), Isa Chiroma, a professor, noted that the university had consistently contravened its admission quota, with the faculty now having a backlog of over 347 students waiting to be admitted into the Nigerian Law School.
“Since 2017 the Council of Legal Education has grappled with the excesses of Baze University by admitting over 750 law students which ordinarily would have taken about 15 years of admission based on the quota allotted to the university,” a part of the statement read.
The statement added that Baze University illegally runs a three-year Bachelor of Law (LL.B) programme for some UTME candidates without the approval of the National Universities Commission (NUC), the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB and the Council of Legal Education.
Under the NUC Minimum Benchmark Academic Standard (BMAS) for Nigerian universities, Law is a five-year programme for UTME candidates, and four years for Direct Entry students, the statement added.
After reviewing these findings, Ms Osho said, the council resolved to impose a temporary ban on the admission of law students to the university with immediate effect.
She noted that the moratorium would last for five years in the first instance, and “may be renewed if no satisfactory action is taken to remedy the situation.”
She said: “The Council in the interest of the innocent students, parents and guardians will use the five years to find ways to deal with the backlog of law students admitted by Baze University more than its admission quota.
“Follow-up visits will be paid to the university to ascertain the extent of the measures it has taken to remedy the anomalies observed during the accreditation visit.
“The National Universities Commission (NUC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), parents, guardians, prospective applicants and members of the public are hereby put on notice of the status of Baze University Abuja and its Faculty of Law”.
‘Not disciplined,’ Nigerians knock minister
Meanwhile, Nigerians on social media are questioning the minister’s discipline as an administrator, maintaining that the violations of the CLE’s admission quota were done under his watch.
“The current minister of education was their (Baze University) vice-chancellor during these years. This means the man is not a disciplined and good administrator,” Abiola Olumu, posted on X in what is representative of a widespread opinion expressed on the microblogging site.
Another X user, Tunde Abiodun, @TundeAbiodun12 posted: “Baze University issues: It is an indictment on the current Minister for Education, Prof.Tahir Mamman that under his watch as the former vice chancellor of the school such degree of irregularities occurred in d law faculty of d school(admission quota & duration of course). What a shame!”
Another X user with the username @Oserume1 posted: “To understand how funny this is, Tahir Mamman, Tinubu’s Minister of Education was VC of Baze University when this “alleged” infraction was happening. It is funnier Tahir Mamman is a Senior Advocate and a former DG of Nigerian Law School. So, ordinarily, Tahir Mamman should know the consequences of such infractions, but let’s watch and see how this movie plays out…”
Another User, LK. Omole @zbnfam, wrote, “In all of these, can the current Minister of Education who was the VC of this school when these infractions took place come out and explain himself?”
‘Minister to comment’
Meanwhile, the Assistant Director of Press and Public Relations at the education ministry, Obilor-Duru Okechi, said the minister’s reaction to the development would be released on Monday.
“It has been in the news. So you’ll get our reaction by tomorrow. The way it’s on air, that’s how our reaction will be on air,” she told our reporter on the phone on Sunday.
University official speaks
However, an official of the university accused the CLE of deliberately targeting the university, saying all Nigerian universities violate the quota.
The official, who asked not to be named because the university has yet to permit to speak to the media over the sensitive matter, confirmed that the university admitted beyond its quota but noted it was not peculiar to it.
“Baze Law Faculty admits more than its quota,” the source told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, adding, “Please tell me one university in Nigeria that does not do this. From public to private, they are all involved. Show me one that is not tangled and I will take back my words.”
The source wondered why CLE was concerned about the allocated quota and not the carrying capacity or the requisite facilities of the institution.
On the accusations that the university runs a five-year programme in three years, the source explained that the university runs three semesters per session instead of two obtainable in other Nigerian universities.
The source said the third trimester is not compulsory but many students prefer doing it as it enables them to finish earlier.
“Baze runs a trimester system, instead of a semester system in some other universities. Trimester means three cohorts in a year, four months per one, while semester means two, and the same four months per one.”
The source wondered why the regulatory body was more concerned about longevity and quantity rather than depth and quality.
Insisting that the university teaches and complete the law curriculum as approved by the relevant agencies, the source added: “What’s the point (to put it simply and as an instance), of reading five books over five years, when you can finish them in three years and move on to the more difficult challenges of life?”
The university official further said: “Has CLE checked if Baze skipped the teaching of any module outlined in BMAS or CCMAS? Have many Baze graduates not been outstanding in the Law School?”
“Have many of these ‘saints’ and their wards not qualified as lawyers by completing their law programmes in two years at the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds, and many other UK and USA universities? Have they not?
“What is the fuss about it all: resistance to change, or just sheer irritation with the success of a young man? Why elevate personal differences? What’s wrong with retraining politically exposed persons, seeking further knowledge? Poor Datti? Take it in your stride, for that is the price you have to pay for being daring, for being Nigerian!”
Meanwhile, an Assistant Director of Press and Public Relations at the education ministry, Obilor-Duru Okechi, said the minister’s reaction to the allegations would be released on Monday.