By Victor Akinkuolie, Ado-Ekiti
The recently announced proposed Ekiti Law School by the Nigeria Senate has ignited spirited lobbying and intrigue between Ilawe-Ekiti and Ifaki-Ekiti, in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
Members of the two communities have since the announcement by the Senate engaged each other in verbal war of words while prominent members of the two ancient towns had temporarily shifted their base to the Federation Capital Territory to lobby the National Assembly members on which town will finally be the site of the proposed Law School.
The Nigeria Senate had on February 8, 2022 announced the approval of six new Law School Campuses across the six geo-political zones of the federation, with that of the South-West approved and will be sited in Ifaki-Ekiti.
The bill sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District entitled: “A bill for an Act to amend the Legal Education Act by establishing the Campuses for the Nigeria Law School and for other related matters.”
According to the Senate President , Ahmed Lawan, during the passage of the bill announced Ifaki-Ekiti in ldo/Osi Local Government area of the state as the host community, Jos Plateau State for North-East, Agungun in Kebbi State for North West.
Others announced by the Senate President were, South-East, Okija, Anambra State, South-South, Orogun, Delta State, while that of the North-Central will be sited in Kabba, Kogi State.
The development is already generating apprehension between Ifaki already listed as host community for the new law school campus and Ilawe-Ekiti early invited by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to come and defend their readiness on behalf of the South-West to have the new campus.
The development has however assumed a new dimension as the two towns hurriedly erected bill boards at the outskirts, signified the permanent sites.
That of Ifaki-Ekiti was erected along Ayegbaju-Ekiti, with an inscription “Permanent Site Nigeria Law School Campus, Ifaki-Ekiti” while that of Ilawe-Ekiti was also erected along Ikogosi-Ekiti with the same inscription
Earlier, before the announcement, the people of Ilawẹ-Ekiti, led by its traditional ruler, Oba Adebanji Alabi and other notable indigenes of the community including a legal luminary, Mr Femi Falana, had in November 2021, been invited by the Senate Committee on Judiciary to brief them on the proposed Law School Campus and readiness of the community to have the school ahead of the announcement.
Similarly, the Senator representing Ekiti Central, who doubles as the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, had during a political event in the State announced the establishment of a Law School Campus in Ilawe-Ekiti.
The Senator during the event also announced the establishment a Medical School in Iyin-Ekiti, his home town and promised that he had perfected plan within the Senate on the passage of the bill and assured that it would soon be assented to by President Mohammadu Buhari.
But the announcement by the Senate on February 8, 2022, that Ifaki Ekiti was the site for the new Law School Campus had pitted the Alawe of Ilawe, Oba Olabanji Alabi and the Olufaki, Oba Adegbenro Falore against each other as the duo were laying claims to hosting right despite that the passed bill is awaiting presidential assent.
In another twist to the imbroglio the Kogi West Senator who sponsored the bill, Smart Adeyemi while addressing a press conference had countered the earlier pronouncement of the Senate President and announced Ilawe Ekiti, as the host town for the Law School Campus.
Information gathered by The Hope revealed that the two monarchs had temporary relocated to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to lobby the Senate and other notable individuals who may assist in this regard.
Reacting to the situation through a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media to Alawe of Ilawẹ-Ekiti, Bummi Ajibade, urged members of the public to disregard the earlier news that the campus was for another town rather than Ilawe.
Oba Alabi stated that he appeared before the Senate Committee on Legal Education in Abuja in November 2021 and spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers of the six geo political zones where the six proposed Law Schools Campuses would be sited.
According to the statement, “I on behalf of the entire people of Ilawe Ekiti commend the distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for approving the siting of the campus of the Nigerian Law School meant for the South West geo political zone, in Ilawe Ekiti.
The Alawe specifically commended the leadership of the Senate led by Distinguished Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Education headed by Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele as well as the sponsor of the bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi.
Likewise the Olufaki of Ifaki Ekiti, Oba Adegbenro Falore, wrote a letter to the Senate and the Presidency appreciating the Federal Government. He said the people of the community received with gratitude the news of the passage of the bill establishing a Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Ifaki Ekiti.
The letter roads: “Your Excellency, we equally appreciate the sponsor of the Bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi for the courage and objectivity in his presentation on the floor of the Senate.
“Our appreciation also goes to the chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matter for his efforts aimed at making the Bill see the light of the day. We assure you all that your names shall be written in gold in the annals of Ifaki Ekiti history.
“Your Excellency we are seizing this medium to draw the attention of your esteemed office to the misrepresentation of the passage of the Bill particularly the location of the Campus by a section of the media. It is worthy of note that Ifaki Ekiti is contained in the Bill at the first reading as well as at the passage of the Bill in the hallowed chamber of the Senate.”
When our Correspondent visited Ifaki-Ekiti, some indigenes of the town who spoke on the matter, described the sitting of the institution as an act of God.
An Octogenarian who gave his name as Mr Oyedele Agbaakin, said the community had long ago lobbied for the institution and had concluded plans for the hosting of the school.
While appreciating the Federal Government over the gesture, Agbaakin explained that the town in preparation for the Law School off has reserved several acres of land for the take up of the school.
Similarly, a legal practitioner in Ado-Ekiti, who is also an indigenes of Ilawe-Ekiti, who may not want his name mentioned, urged members of the public to disbelief the rumour that the location of the proposed Law School has been relocated to another town.
He explained that the town has concluded all arraignment with the Senate and other relevant stakeholders to announce the name of Ilawe-Ekiti as soon as President Mohammadu Buhari assent to the bill.
While appreciating members of the 9th Senate as well as other notable indigenes of the town who he said had in one way or the others contributed to the actualisation of the dream of the town.