The relocation of the University’s nascent law programme from Nsukka to Enugu campus in the mid-1960s, and the subsequent quest for an expanded suite of departments to cater for various lines of academic inquiry within the programme led to proposals for, among others, distinct departments of public law and private law. These proposals were not completely successful particularly for financial reasons, leading to a merger of what would have been two departments into one, the Department of Public and Private Law. The department operates as an academic unit within the University of Nigeria Law Faculty. Its key activities are teaching, research and public service.
The Department co-offers the bachelors (LL.B.) masters (LL.M.) and doctoral (Ph.D.) programmes in conjunction with the other departments of the Law Faculty, under the Faculty’s auspices. It serves a critical role by contributing lecturers, academic advisers, academic supervisors and general administrative input to these programmes, consistent with applicable university and other guidelines. For post-graduate students whose research focus falls within the department’s bailiwick, the department particularly serves as a clearinghouse for key prerequisites and processes of their programmes. The department has recently introduced the teach-the-teachers programme, aimed at providing enhanced opportunities for lecturers to advance their understanding of the pedagogical process by infusion of the latest ideas in educational research and training.
The department has been the home of cutting-edge research, much of which has found its way into eminent peer-reviewed journals within the Commonwealth and beyond. Recent research by lecturers in the department within the period 2014-2015 has been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals as diverse as the Journal of African Law, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the Journal of International Banking Law. The department’s per capita journal publication in the period 2014-2015 was well in excess of 1. On-going research includes investigations of the character of customary corporate law in Africa, the United Nation’s millennium development goals, restrictions on testamentary powers under Nigerian law, problems of proof in suits concerning disputed elections, environmental ethics, the new international trade in land rights as well as the international prevention of human trafficking with special focus on women and children.
Members of the department are constantly in demand nationally and internationally, on a variety of assignments regarding which their expertise is sought for causes pro bono publico. Amongst others, they have recently served as state commissioners in the University’s host state, advisers to key functionaries of the Nigerian national legislature and secretariat, a rapporteur for a key United Nations agency programme, a member of the Board of Trustees of a United Nations trust fund, an enrollee on the indicative list of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Panelists and as an ordained cleric of the church. The Faculty’s Law Clinic, a major initiative for public service, has consistently been staffed and run by academic members of the department.