Foremost Bar Leader, Chief Emeka Ngige SAN has continued to receive accolades for his reformist agenda both at the Nigerian Law School and as a member of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) as he turns 62 years today.

CITY LAWYER recalls that Ngige, until recently the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education (CLE), has orchestrated an unprecedented renovation of the decayed infrastructure at the Nigerian Law School through an innovative collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders.

As a two-term member of the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee since 2020, the highly respected Bar Leader is reputed to have contributed significantly in the reform of the procedures for award of the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). This has led to the enactment of new conferment rules aimed to ensure that the award is increasingly meritorious.

It is recalled that Ngige had, as CLE Chairman, launched an ambitious Nigerian Law School Support Initiative (NLSI) which has attracted many projects to the school through governments and individual stakeholders.

Aside from major renovation work by the Lagos State Government among other stakeholders, Ngige was able to attract the state-of-the-art Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas SAN Campus in Port Harcourt, donated to the Nigerian Law School by the Governor Nyesom Wike-led administration.

These milestones did not go unnoticed by former President Muhammadu Buhari who showered encomiums on Ngige at his 60th birthday anniversary in 2021 and subsequently conferred the National Honour of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) on him. A statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read: “The President notes, with commendation, contributions of the legal luminary to the study and practice of law in Nigeria, donating books and materials to Law Schools, and serving on National Executive of NBA for more than 25 years, during which he represented the association as a member of the Body of Benchers.

“President Buhari affirms that Chief Ngige played a significant role in ensuring fairness and justice for the state and citizens by accepting to join the team of private legal professionals that prosecuted cases at the Failed Banks Tribunal, and other significant cases for the Federal Government, largely related to recovery of public funds and property.

Then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad also hailed Ngige, a Bencher and Assistant Secretary of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), as a “legal icon and quintessential philanthropist,” adding that he is a “man of honour and dignity” whose lifestyle “has been a formidable fountain of inspiration to people from all walks of life.

“A life of scholarship. A life of commitment to the development of his fatherland. A life of service to humanity. A life of absolute submission to the dictates of the almighty God and his conscience.”

Following his short-lived re-appointment as Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, BOSAN had stated that “your re-appointment is a testament to your commitment to excellent service and immense contribution to the development of the Legal Education in Nigeria,” adding that “We note with admiration your exceptional philanthropic gestures which has manifested in the development of the Nigerian Law School, thereby impacting positively and realistically on the standard of Legal Education in Nigeria and ultimately the standard of Legal Practice nationally and internationally.”

Aside from clearing of backlog of over 10,000 students and resolving the longstanding logjam on admission of National Open University (NOUN) law graduates to the Nigerian Law School, Ngige, with support from the management of the Nigerian Law School, also spearheaded a revision of the school’s curriculum and adoption of interactive teaching methods. He equally instituted administrative reforms and established a Quality Assurance Unit to ensure uniform delivery of academic programmes and facilities across all the campuses. The Council also supervised six final Bar examinations.

Apart from sundry projects delivered by the Federal Government through the supervising Federal Ministry of Justice, the Rivers State government constructed two hostels and a multi-purpose hall at the Yenagoa campus of the school

In conjunction with the school administration, the Council built two medical centres at Abuja and Enugu campuses, commissioned a Moot Court, built by the Nigerian Law School Class of 1986 and several staff quarters were rehabilitated by the Enugu State government, besides installation of CCTV cameras in examination halls at Abuja headquarters and commencement of digitisation of files and documents to enhance speedy issuance of transcripts.

The Council also approved accreditation reports for law programmes in 37 universities, reviewed upwards grading system for Bar finals, overhauled its corporate governance regime, enforced disciplinary provisions in the Legal Education (Consolidation Etc) Act, and equally reviewed the Code of Conduct for students.

Ngige is a member of the Body of Benchers, a body of legal practitioners with the highest distinction. He was a Non-Executive Director at Air Peace Limited, one of Africa’s leading airlines.

Ngige has been a representative of NBA at the Body of Benchers (BoB). He was elected Publicity Secretary (1995-1996) and Secretary (1996-1998) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch. From1991 to 2016, he served as a co-opted member of the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC). He was in 1990 appointed a Notary Public by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammed Bello. Ngige has been conferred by the Rivers State Government with its highest honour of Distinguished Star of Rivers State ( DSSRS) award. He holds the chieftaincy title of Ikemba N’Alor.

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