National Open University of Nigeria Law Graduates

Published on: July 7, 2020 (Updated on: April 28, 2024)

Many who studied law at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) have expressed disappointments and frustrations over inability to proceed to the Nigerian Law School. By virtue of Section 5 of the Legal Education (Consolidation, etc.) Act 1976, a practical training at the Nigerian Law School is a requirement for admission to the Nigerian Bar. Section 1 (2) of the Act gives the Council Establishment and of Legal Education (the ‘Council’) responsibility for the legal education of people seeking to become members of the legal profession.

Nigerian law forum. Article on National Open University of Nigeria Law Graduates. Image of opened law book on a desk.

Several applications are usually made to law school every year. Applications are usually made by students who have completed prerequisite studies either in Nigeria or abroad. While I sympathize with those who were affected by the NOUN situation, the responsibility of directing the affairs of legal education is an onerous one. This is because it is necessary to ensure that bar aspirants possess a high standard of legal education and that aspirants are also ‘fit and proper’.

High standard of legal education implies a good knowledge of substantive law. While some might study law in a distance learning programme or as a part time course and achieve a thorough knowledge of law, others might fall short. The Council thus is usually careful when it comes to accrediting law faculties.

While some may argue that distance learning studies pave way to legal profession in many other countries, it is worth noting that many foreign countries have other requirements to be fulfilled after completion of practical learning at the law school. For instance in the United Kingdom, distance learning could pave way to taking the Legal Practice Course (LPC) for Solicitors.

However, upon completion of the one year LPC, one would need to complete a training course in a law firm for further two years before practicing as a Solicitor. Likewise after completion of the the Bar Courses in the UK, one would need to undertake a mandatory one year pupillage and also complete a tenancy for another 1 year at Barristers Chambers. In Nigeria on the other hand, there are no such mandatory requirements after the 1 year programme at the Nigerian Law School.

The National Open University of Nigeria was not the first institution to have issues of recognition by the Council. Lead City University had similar issues some years back. Admission to the legal profession in many countries is usually regulated by statute or statutory bodies and one needs to make preliminary findings before embarking on a legal profession career. This would help to avoid waste of time and other resources.


There is a list of accredited Nigerian academic institutions that provide legal education in Nigeria. Since practical training at the law school is a prerequisite for admission to the Nigerian Bar, the Nigerian Law School is one of the good places to start enquiries for those aspiring to practice law in Nigeria. There is optimism that law faculties of distance learning institutions will gain more recognition in Nigeria given the benefits of distance learning particularly in the current Covid-19 pandemic. It is only a matter of time.

When graduates of unaccredited institutions are rejected by the law school, they often face a dilemma as to whom to seek redress against: whether the institution, law school, or Council etc. This could be quite complicated because it is not unusual for some institutions to argue that they only provided teaching and not a guarantee for law school admission.

Litigation can also be time consuming as such case might end up in the Supreme Court. This is why one needs to consider what exactly one’s goal is: whether damages (some sort of compensation) or admission to law school. If it is admission to law school for fulfillment of studies, then accepting a proffered solution such as a remedial course would not be a bad idea.

There might be a situation where a law faculty was accredited then later becomes unaccredited due to a perceived drop in standards. In such scenario, I think those who have commenced their studies while there was a valid accreditation should be allowed to proceed to law school. This would be in line with the principle of non-retroactivity.


Michael Akerele, LLB, MICL, BL