Abuja, 22 May 2020: Despite the recent easing of lockdown measures in Nigeria, up to 174 universities and polytechnic institutions remain closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet, teaching and learning must continue. UNODC has been working closely with lecturers and professors across the world to increase online and digital teaching on rule of law related topics including but not limited to integrity and ethics, cybercrime, organized crime, wildlife crime and corruption. Through its Education for Justice Initiative (E4J), UNODC organized a series of e-workshops with academics from various Nigerian higher education institutions to present the E4J university modules, discuss the role of academia in promoting the SDGs and share experiences on the use of E4J tools and resources in Nigeria. Among the participants were E4J Champions Dr. Matthew Ayibakuro and Dr. Helen Uchenna Agu who shared their experience working with E4J tools.
Since 2016, I have been involved in developing various E4J modules. I have been using the modules to teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and I am currently developing a stand-alone Anti-corruption module for the Masters in Law Programme at my university.
I have found my engagement with the E4J initiative helpful in three key areas. Firstly, the materials provide a reference point for teaching corruption and anti-corruption related modules at every stage of the process from course planning to the development of individual classes, to the delivery in class and student assessment. With the materials, you no longer have to start from point zero in teaching anti-corruption and other rule of law related areas. I have found this particularly useful whilst teaching topics with a direct or indirect bearing on anti-corruption such as constitutional law and administrative law, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Secondly, from the perspective of an academic in the global South, the publications and other academic resources made available as part of the modules have been useful, especially in situations where we (as lecturers or students) would otherwise be unable to access those materials. The significance of this for teaching and research purposes has been invaluable.
Finally, the existence of the E4J initiative itself has been immense in terms of the platform it creates for collaboration amongst academics, the obvious gap it fills by educating students around the world on corruption and related issues and the opportunity of using the programme and its resources as a basis for developing and enhancing existing teaching resources. In the latter respect, the resources have been very helpful for me in developing a stand-alone master’s level module on Anti-corruption. I am thrilled to see the results of the ongoing process of reviewing the modules for the Nigerian context and the progress made with the programme generally.
My special interest is on wildlife, fishery and forest crime which is interestingly aligned with my research agenda as a one year Visiting Scholar/ post-doctoral Research fellow under the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) at Michigan State University, USA.
With my background training in international environmental law and my post-doctoral research experience, I fell in love with the E4J initiative. I developed the zeal and determination to have my students at the University of Nigeria take benefit of this rich knowledge package, not just in my area of expertise (wildlife crime) but also all the other university modules. I strongly believe that as a law teacher, I have the rare opportunity of imparting the next generation of lawyers to become rule of law ambassadors to curb the many ever-evolving societal ills such as cybercrime, human trafficking, terrorism, corruption, wildlife crime and other forms of organized crime.
I anchor a student organization known as The Greener Picture (TGP) made up of over 300 students from different disciplines such as Law, Medical sciences, Environmental Sciences, Business Administration and Nursing Sciences. TGP phase one project was on ‘greening’ the entire university through massive tree planting, a project welcomed and applauded by the University administration.
I have introduced my students via webinar and online meetings to the E4J platform to study all the modules. Once fully back on campus by September, we shall be having seminars for all Faculties. I have also introduced three of my colleagues to the programme and they are willing to partake in instructions and test administrations. Students shall be taught from the modules. Whenever a module instruction is completed, the students will take tests. Successful completion of all modules will entitle students to a Life membership of TGP, even after graduation, and also to participate in all our programmes and trainings.
Many thanks for the privilege of championing this initiative in my university, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.