The aggrieved students were adamant in exhausting all avenues to call the attention of the relevant authorities to put an end to this unfortunate act, which has been a rule rather than the exception at the Law School since its existence for almost Twenty Four (24) years and, or better still reprimand and publicly shame the exam cheaters and their conspirators.
No wonder why The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are demanding that this is the time for all to start questioning the credibility and credentials of our so-called Barristers and Solicitors at Law aka lawyers. YES WE MUST! We must from today investigate our lawyers who represent us in the courts of law as well as provide legal advises where the need be. We must vehemently question our lawyers whether they merited their credentials. We must stubbornly mount an investigation to know whether they did not beat the system in connivance with the Registrar, the Secretary to the Registrar and even the Director of the Law School. We must, with every fiber of our being try to finally know whether the current crop of lawyers who graduated and certified for the past ten (10) years genuinely passed the eleven (11) modules or subjects with the required 50 percent pass mark.
The aforesaid are probing questions not meant for journalists alone, but for all Sierra Leoneans because everyone needs the service of a lawyer and by extension lawyers are expected to be the legal conscience of our beloved country. This has also warranted The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans to ask: Is cheating during examination not corruption? To also conspire with students to beat the system, is it not a corrupt action? Yes it is, especially when these so-called cheaters become lawyers and we expect them to legislate impartial laws at the advantage of national development. Are these reasons not justifiable for most of the bad laws we are still maintaining in our law books?
The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are bemused with consternation demanding an answer why our lawyers cheated during their Final Bar exams? Fortunately, one of the best students who was called to the Bar in Sierra Leone in 2010, Rashid Dumbuya Esq, thought he was also cheated which was why he took second position out of a class of 52.
According to Rasid Esq., lack of clarity in a lesson, perceived lack of relevance, and too few tests offered in grading period are also strong reasons why a lot of students cheat in exams. Additionally, he catalogued the following as impetus for the occurrence of exam malpractice and cheating during exams. They are:
a) Unstable school calendar b) Inadequate notice to examination c) Romantic collaboration between staff and students d) Inadequate monitoring of lecturers’ activities e) Inadequate concern to students welfare and activities f) Poor attendance to lecturers g) Highhandedness by lecturers h) Use of poor lecture methods i) Frequent strike actions j) Sexual harassment by lecturers k) Using of students to mark students’ scripts and the Extortion of money from students by lecturers.
Suffice it to say that the political will by the Government of Sierra Leone must be demonstrated with action. Where this is lacking, according to Rashid Esq, the dwindling funding of the educational sector becomes a cardinal precursor to examination malpractice. In addendum to this, where academic institutions are not capacitated and staff (tutors) badly paid, the opportunities for sustained corruption become the order of the day.
Now, The Voiceless want to dwell on the reason (s) for the decision to nullify more than fifty young lawyers who were recently called to the Bar.
This decision came as a result of the recent dissatisfaction constantly registered by some students who were asked to repeat because they did not pass the Final Bar Examination; the said students accepted the decision on one hand and refused on the other hand. They refused, like I said earlier, because they realized that the action was unfair. In the sense that some of their colleagues who were actually called to the Bar did not merit it (meaning they failed like them). Their plea then follows: “We have accepted to repeat but our colleagues who failed bribed their way out to the Bar.”
Who will dispute the fact that their concern was not justifiable? Yes I will join The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans to say their claim is an allegation, but will contest the decision by the Council of Legal Education. The Voiceless will anchor his justification from the statement of the Director of Law School, Professor Tuboku Metzger, during the certification ceremony of these seventy one (71) lawyers (already nullified) in November 13th, 2013.
Prof. Metzger told Sierra Leoneans and non Sierra Leoneans including the Chief Justice Umu-Hawa Tejan Jalloh, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Sulaiman Bah and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Frank Kargbo, that these graduates “are fit and proper persons to be called to the Sierra Leone Bar”. The Voiceless is asking whether such statement was meant to fool Sierra Leoneans?
Another point of argument is that, the lecturers of Law School comprise of senior judges, Professor, senior lawyers and senior citizens with good standing repute. Among them are Justice Eku Roberts, Justice Brown Marke, Justice Vivian Solomon, the DPP, Lawyer Glena Thompson, Professor Eke Halloway, and the ACC Commissioner, Joseph F. Kamara among others. These personalities were there, as revealed by the Registrar of Law School, Magistrate Herbert Hezekia Davies-Cole, during the Academic Board Meeting, they were asked whether they were satisfied with the grades of all the students. ‘They all consented and some even added some marks to upgrade the grades of certain students, depending on his/her performance in class. This has been a tradition for over decades, and these “shortfall” is never recorded on the scripts but taken note of in the spreadsheet’.
Finally, when the alleged exam fraud was reported to the Council of Legal Education of Sierra Leone, an Initial Committee was set up headed by Justice V.V. Thomas. The findings were that, “The claims by the aggrieved students were baseless and unjustifiable”. Another Committee was again set up after a mounted pressure by the same students. Fortunately and ironically, V.V.Thomas was there again, but this time around they fired a shot that struck the camels’ back. They consented that there was fraud and out of the 71 students called to the Bar, only 15 merited it, therefore the reason for the nullification of the certificates of these young lawyers.
Conclusively, if this decision to clean up the Sierra Leone Law School by putting an end to cheating and exam malpractices, then the Council of Legal Education is to mount an investigation starting at least from 2000 to date or set up another Academia Committee comprising not just lawyers but other respected lecturers from different learning institutions to remark the 11 subjects of these young lawyers.
Also, The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are demanding (this is to avoid social unrest and a repeat of the decade civil war) that the decision to nullify these lawyers be withdrawn and maintain their status as lawyers. This is because the said young lawyers were given marks by their lecturers in consultation with the Academic Board without notifying the students. Yes, more than two decade tradition.
The interesting part of this saga is that, the Registrar, before his arrest by the ACC, has VINDICATED THE LAWYERS AND TAKEN THE BLAME. Senegalese musician based in the USA, Akon took a blame for dancing with a teen during his stage performance even though he never took notice of the little girl.
This is the last statement of the Law School Registrar: “Let me at this point say that I am not canvassing sympathy...the responsibility for flaws are mine.” So why now nullify the certificates of these lawyers if it is not a witch hunt or politically motivated one?