Kayode Bello, the student expelled from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja, for drawing attention to the poor welfare conditions in the school, has accused the institution’s authorities of shamelessly lying to justify his illegal expulsion on 11 July.
His accusation was contained in a rejoinder to a statement by the Nigerian Law School, which alleged that he has a rich record of misbehavior.
In the statement issued on Wednesday by Mr. Chinedu Ukekwe, the institution’s Head of Information and Protocol, the Nigerian Law School alleged that Mr. Bello was rusticated from the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, in the 2008/2009 for unruly conduct.
The statement added that the expelled student applied for admission to the Nigerian Law School in July 2012, but his application form and Dean’s Reference revealed that he was rusticated from the University of Ibadan in the 2008/2009 academic session for disrupting the peace of the university.
“The Dean’s confidential report showed that he defied the authorities of the university and continued his program without serving out the rustication period. It was when his defiance was discovered that he was forced to comply.
“After his studentship was reinstated, he was unrepentant, as the report indicated his further involvement in a case of gross misconduct (insubordination), which made the Board of the Faculty of Law to recommend him for further disciplinary action,” the Nigerian Law School alleged.
It added that in line with its extant policy, Mr. Bello’s application for admission in 2012 was referred to the Council of Legal Education, which resolved he should only be considered for admission in the 2016/2017 school year, given his allegedly negative antecedents.
The institution added that when he was to be offered admission in October 2016, the Council of Legal Education directed that he should be issued a letter warning him against any act of indiscipline and that the admission was probationary in nature.
However, the expelled student described the institution’s claims as hogwash, branding the Nigerian Law School as “an arena of lies and deception”.
According to him, he was not involved in the October 13, 2008, protest at University of Ibadan, as he had been detained at the Sango and Iyanganku Police Stations in Ibadan at the time the protest took place. He explained that he was shocked by the report sent to the Nigerian Law School by Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose, the then Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, saying he was involved in the disruption of peace and tranquility on campus.
“Please, fellow alumni of the University of Ibadan, who witnessed the 2008 protest on the hike in school fees during Professor Olufemi Bamiro’s regime as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, was I in the protest then? I allow those University of Ibadan graduates to be my witnesses. To answer that, if allowed, I was detained for three days without knowing the offense I committed. One witness, whom I withhold his name later inboxed me that I did not even distribute flyers as alleged by the authorities of the University of Ibadan,” he stated.
He also denied that there was a time the authorities of the Nigerian Law School wanted to admit him into the Nigerian Law School, saying his unlawful denial of admission into the institution was reported to the Public Complaints Commission, which stated that he could only reapply to the Nigerian Law School in 2016 admission period.
Mr. Bello was particularly irked by the portion of the Dean’s Confidential Report, which alleged that he defied University of Ibadan authorities and continued his program without serving out the rustication period.
“I think the Nigerian Law School knows what I don’t know. In the University of Ibadan that I know of, immediately the panel or committee rusticates or expels a student, you have to obey, and the Vice Chancellor would direct that the security operatives follow you to pack your belongings from the hostel. Maybe when we get to court, the Nigerian Law School would provide proof of when I was forced to comply with rustication,” he stated.
He equally rejected the allegation that after he was reinstated, he remained unrepentant, a development that made the Board of the Faculty of Law recommended him for further disciplinary action. Mr. Bello argued that the claim is grossly incorrect and incomplete, asking what happened after his recommendation for further disciplinary action. He claimed that Professor Bamgbose, who wrote the confidential report to the Nigerian Law School; and Dr. Akintayo John of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ibadan were determined to have him expelled.
According to him, the university’s Faculty of Law advertised, on its information board, a summer program in Geneva, Switzerland in June 2012. He applied, was admitted, but he needed funds. He then applied for a grant to the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Adewole Isaac, current Minister for Health.
However, he said, Dr. John, then the Acting Dean, stood against it, saying a year before, Mr. John Bamgbose, now a lawyer and in-law Professor Bamgbose, and Mr. Bello attended a conference on climate change in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Bello alleged that Dr. John wrote to deprive him of the funding he stood to get because Professor Bamgbose’s in-law was not involved in 2012.
He further claimed that Dr. John reported him to Professor Bamgbose that he had been rude to him and that she should not endorse his request for grant.
“The matter was reported to the then Vice Chancellor, who waded in and asked the Faculty of Law to drop any allegation against me. It took the intervention of the then Vice chancellor that I eventually went for the in Switzerland representing my university and Nigeria at Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland,” the expelled student added.
He thought the matter had ended. However, Professor Bamgbose, he said, constituted another panel with a view to ruling against the Vice Chancellor’s decision. It was unsuccessful.
But Professor Oluyemisi Bamgbose had another plan, which she unveiled at the time Mr. Bello was to be mobilized for the Nigerian Law School. This, said the expelled student, was made known to him through the Public Complaints Commission, which informed him that an adverse report had been prepared against him by Professor Bamgbose.
He maintained that the Nigerian Law School and Council of Legal Education never gave him a fair hearing when it received a confidential report from Professor Bamgbose.
The expelled student further stated that the Nigerian Law School offered him admission in 2012, but the offer was withdrawn from its website without any explanation. It also took Professor Bamgbose a long time to process his admission and forward his result to the Nigerian Law School. Mr. Bello said he called the attention of the Nigerian Law School authorities to an anomaly that they admitted two students (Opadare and Chuckwuemeka) with incomplete results from the University of Ibadan. He alleged that the authorities of the University of Ibadan and the Nigerian Law School swept the aberration under the carpet. “Rather, they ganged up against me and delayed my admission to the Nigerian Law School for four years. But in 2014, after I pursued the Law School admission from 2012 to 2013 through the Public Complaints Commission, I left the country for volunteer work in the Philippines, where I worked with Typhoon Yolanda victims with an America-based organization, called the All Hands Volunteers,” stated Mr. Bello.
While in the Philippines, he narrated his ordeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and sought asylum, which gave him an opportunity to start my master’s degree program in Public Administration.
In 2015, seeing that a new government that promised to fight corruption had assumed power in Nigeria, Mr. Bello said he asked the Philippines asylum/refugee authorities to allow him to return to Nigeria to pursue his case with the Nigerian Law School. The authorities granted him permission.
He returned to the Public Complaints Commission, which informed him that the Nigerian Law School had made a commitment to contact him once the Council of Legal Education had taken a decision on this matter. That promise went not kept, as neither the Nigerian Law School nor Council of Legal Education contacted him. He petitioned the Public Complaints Commission, which he said hurriedly created a document and branded it as the outcome of its investigation. The Public Complaints Commission, he added, then told him to reapply in 2016, which he did but not before contesting the decision at the National Human Rights Commission.
The National Human Rights Commission, however, declined to not entertain his case because the Public Complaints Commission had already taken a decision on it. Mr. Bello’s next step was to inform that late human rights lawyer, Mr. Bamidele Aturu, who asked him to pay a filing fee for a suit against the Council of Legal Education in Abuja, being the council’s place of business. He could not afford to pay.
With no progress in 2015, Mr. Bello returned to the Philippines to continue his master’s program.
Back there, he told the authorities that his travails persisted and expressed a desire to sue the Council of Legal Education. He was discouraged from doing so and advised to wait for the 2016 admission period. He also petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Agency, which is yet to respond to his complaints.
In June 2016, while in the Philippines, Mr. Bello said a friend sent him a message that the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, needed his result and other documents for Law School admission. His initial response was that the Faculty of Law should be in possession of everything required for his admission and could say with authority whether or not he had graduated.
He, however, discovered that his statement of result, duly signed by the Examinations Officer of the University of Ibadan, was doubted. Mr. Bello begged his friend in Nigeria to, on his behalf, send more documents to the Nigerian Law School.
On his part, he sent a copy of the letter sent to the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authorities (SRA) in the United Kingdom that he is a graduate of the University of Ibadan that the university was processing my certificate.
However, he alleged that the former Vice Chancellor and current Health Minister, Professor Adewole, refused to release his certificate and the university even referred to him as a student after graduation.
“For years, the University of Ibadan kept removing my name, up till now, from the convocation brochure without any reason because I wrote about the suffering of the students on campus when a no-cooking policy was declared by the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Adewole. It became one of the issues the students of the University of Ibadan agitated for that led to the suspension of academic activities and Students’ Union by Professor Abel Olayinka, the incumbent Vice Chancellor,” stated Mr. Bello.
Eventually, he was able to forward the relevant documents to the Faculty of Law of the university, which informed him that his name and documents had been forwarded to the Nigerian Law School for admission.
“I came to Nigeria again in October 2016 after taking leave of absence from my graduate school in the Philippines,” he said.
But before leaving for Nigeria, he discovered that his name was omitted from the registration list on the portal of the Nigerian Law School. He was advised to go to Abuja to pursue the admission.
Mr. Bello, working on the assumption that the matter could be quickly resolved, arrived Abuja with a shirt and a pair of trousers.
When he discovered that his assumption was wrong, he was forced to return to Ibadan to take more belongings-all in a bid to ensure he would not be denied admission again.
He was first told at the Nigerian Law School that documents for his admission had not been received from the University of Ibadan. Mr. Bello said he showed Law School officers documents from the Public Complaints Commission on his case. This forced the hand of the institution’s authorities.
“I eventually started admission, and the Council’s communication to me on my admission was given in February 2017 after repeated requests, for the resumption that was in November, 2016. This implied that the Council of Legal Education never communicated to me its decision on my Law School admission before the admission exercise. The Council’s decision had been made since June 2014. I got to know I would reapply through the Public Complaints Commission in 2015. What was contained in the letter to me by the Council of Legal Education was that I was given a benefit of doubt not a letter of warning, as claimed by the Nigerian Law School,” he said.
Mr. Bello challenged the Nigerian Law School and Council of Legal Education to provide proof of the allegations against him, including the one that he had a tetchy relationship with my fellow students.
On the allegation that he behaved badly in Equity Law Partners, the firm he was posted to for attachment, Mr. Bello said he wrote to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that his female boss, who signed his log book, was always insulting him and threatened never to sign the log book any longer.
He claimed that the log book of the Nigerian Law School for attachment contains information allowing interns to report to the NBA Chairman or the Nigerian Law School for reposting should the need arise.
“The Nigerian Bar Association headquarters intervened and the Vice Chairman of the Abuja branch of NBA, Mr. Oyefeso Tunde was contacted. I finished the remaining part of my internship with him. My sin was that I reported the partner at the Equity Law Partners to the NBA when the partner threatened or said she would no longer sign my log book. I reported the issue to a senior partner at the law firm because the managing and principal partners were not available,” stated Mr. Bello.