Commission of Inquiry into FBC system of evaluating students overdue for decades : The state of legal education in Sierra Leone

By Albert Momoh :

I have been pondering over the recently released results issued by the council of legal education in Sierra Leone. As a Sierra Leonean a lawyer and an academic I am dismayed by the figures released by the council. Out of 108 students who enrolled for the exam there were 25 passes 46 referrals and 37 outright failures. Even in Nigeria in West Africa only 28 % of candidates failed.


In percentages this sierra leone law school equates to a 23 % pass rate, 42% referral and a 34 % failure rate. Most importantly of those referred 63 % of those referred were in just one subject civil procedure. These results are disheartening but it calls into serious question the scope and breadth of legal education in Sierra Leone. Where 23 % of people pass the bar exams questions must be asked and an enquiry conducted to find out why there are so many failures and referrals. Sadly no one is talking about this or even raising issues. As usual there is no interest as only those affected bear the anguish and feel the pain caused by failure.


Where 63% of students are referred in one module a thorough investigation needs to be conducted into the structure teaching and marking of that module. Fewer than 10 % of students were referred in other modules.

I hope legal education would be given the seriousness it deserves by the institution of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this result. We owe it to our country to ensure that future generations opting for the legal profession have the confidence that they are getting a fair deal in the pursuit of their chosen profession and everything is being done by the authorities to ensure they succeed in their exams.




The Law School administration with approval from the Council of Legal Education has published the Bar Final Examination results on 28th July 2017 with 83 failures out of 108 students that took the exams.


For far too long the Sierra Leone Law School has been hijacked as if the institution is a secret society where only selected few will cross the ‘initiation rubicorn.’ With cruel clutches, few persons continue to intimidate Sierra Leoneans who intend to become lawyers. As if their inaction is not enough, another bomb has been dropped without recourse to the causes of the decade civil war that left untold suffering to all Sierra Leoneans.
According to the Chairman of Legal Education and the Registrar, out of the 108 candidates, 25 passed, 46 got reference and 37 failed. It is an undying fact that a reference is synonymous to failure. One only rewrites the same module/subject because he/she has been given a concession by the university or college. This in no way means the person will pass.


The Law School was established in February 1990, with the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone, Prof. F.C. Tuboku-Metzger as Director. He handed over a failed administration to his predecessor, Hon. Prof. Justice Dr. H.M. Joko Smart. Being birds of the same feathers, the situation deteriorated with no end in sight. The argument brought forward by them is that “the law profession is very enviable and respectable which only accommodates few persons.”


In Nigeria last year over 300 students enrolled at the Ilorin University of Law alone. Out of those students that took the Bar Final Examinations, 117 got First Class Honours in Law. This University was rated in 2014 as the as the best in Nigeria.
“The Council of Legal Education has rated the University of Ilorin, the best in the country based on the cumulative performance of its students in the 2014 Bar Final Examination of the Nigerian Law School. According to the Committee report, University of Ilorin beat others among the top five.” These were, in order of merit: university of Lagos, University of Ibadan, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Adekunle Ajasin University.
Speaking to The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans on condition of anonymity, one of the senior lecturers at the Sierra Leone Law School said the college is expected to “impartially provide professional legal training and conducts final examinations for those persons seeking to become members of the legal profession in Sierra Leone.” He added that “they have outlasted this sacred mandate to please their political god fathers at the expense of quality education.”
The Lecturer said, “This is the only institution where external interference dictates the fate of students and the outcome of the final results.”
Last year, after releasing the Bar final examination results, no student got neither a Distinction nor a Division one. This year is more frustration and messy as no student got Division one.

Worsening as the situation was in 2016, 70 students sat to the all-important Bar Exams and only 20 students passed.
Efforts to get responses from the Chairman – Council of Legal Education and the Acting Director of Law School-Pamela O. Davies proved futile.


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