Leadership of law students across the country on Tuesday successfully petitioned President Nana Akufo-Addo to trigger reforms in legal education after an initial attempt failed a week ago due to police brutalities.
Police personnel on October 7 used brute force to prevent the law students from presenting a petition summing up their grievances on legal education to Nana Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House, claiming the students did not have permission though contrary evidence was provided.
Rubber bullets and teargas were fired and water sprayed on the protesters just few metres to the Jubilee House leading to injury of some of the students. About 13 of the students were arrested for allegedly insisting on their rights, but they were later released after being cautioned.
Though deputy Chief of Staff, Abu Jinapor, intervened at the time and asked the police to allow them to present the petition at the presidency, the students refused insisting they will only do that if their arrested colleagues were released.
A week after the incident, which has widely been condemned and described as police brutalities, the leadership of the students who form the National Association of Law Students on Tuesday October 15 presented the petition at the office of the president.
We want “drastic action”
President of the Association, Jonathan Alua, urged the President to take “drastic action” on their seven-page petition and give “predictable timeline”.
He described as “diplomatic,” the president’s letter to the Chief Justice earlier this year.
“The impression the president had was that he didn’t want to step into the powers of the judiciary but we are strongly of the opinion that the General Legal Council in administering their mandate to regulate legal education, is doing the administrative job separate from the judiciary and the law allows for the president to direct the General Legal Council through the Attorney General,” he stated.
For the students, he said, the issue is simply “a matter of law”.
“We are asking that the President intervenes,” Mr Alua told Mr Jinapor who received the petition on behalf of President Akufo-Addo.
Exorbitant re-marking fee
Giving out highlights of the petition, he said, the current remarking fee being charged at the Ghana School of Law is exorbitant, noting despite parliament’s recommendation for the fee to be reduced, authorities appear unyielding.
Parliament, he said, recommended that it is reduced from 3,000 cedis per paper to 500 cedis but “as we speak some of my mates are paying as much as 9,000 cedis for three papers, 6,000 cedis for two and 3,000 cedis for one”.
On the issue of entrance exams at the Ghana School of Law, the students are pushing for reforms that will ultimately empower and equip the various law faculties in the country to be able to run the professional law course.
“We all agree that quality shouldn’t be compromised but it is pointless to have people who have passed the LLB programme roaming the streets without access to professional legal education,” Alua stated.
He added that “once you’ve passed the LLB programme, then you’re deemed worthy of taking the professional law course.
According to Mr Alua, the government has clearly demonstrated its resolve to make education affordable hence “we don’t understand why increasingly, we keep drumming the fact that remarking shouldn’t be hindered by financial constraints”.
Responding, Mr Abu Jinapor said he would forward the petition to Nana Akufo-Addo for the necessary action to be taken.
“We will furnish him with the petition and you can be rest assured that if there are any consequential steps that the president deems necessary he will do so” he assured.