Frank Nigel Othembi: LDC director departs after 12 years

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Frank Nigel Othembi: LDC director departs after 12 years
Frank Nigel Othembi

Frank Othembi's his legacy is marred by a sex scandal and high student failure rates at the institution.

The Director of the Law Development Centre (LDC), Mr Frank Nigel Othembi, has stepped down after 12 years of at the helm.

However, his legacy is marred by a sex scandal and high student failure rates at the institution.

In a message to the staff, Othembi acknowledged that his tenure at LDC would end on April 30, which was on Tuesday.

“I will be departing the Centre after 12 years of service as Director. I thank you for your commitment and support in promoting 'A Tradition of Legal Excellence,” he said in his message to the staff.

Othembi informed the staff that the management committee of LDC has met and taken necessary actions regarding the appointment of a new director, which will be communicated in due course.

Othembi was appointed as the Director of LDC in 2012, after serving as the Executive Secretary of the Uganda Law Reform Commission.

Prior to that, he held positions such as Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate and Registrar of Education and Public Affairs at the Judicial Service Commission, replacing Elijah Wante Orotired.

Unfortunately, Othembi and the academic Registrar Turyahikayo Evaristo faced accusations in 2019 when a whistleblower reported their gross abuse of office.

They were accused of aiding staff members in extorting money from students by collecting money for forged failures. The practice peaked between 2016 and 2018, with students paying large sums of money ranging from 1 to 20 million, depending on the number of subjects failed and the desired score to be exchanged. They were accused of manipulating the pass lists and graduation lists through their connections with students.

In 2022, Othembi and other staff members appeared before the Public Accounts Committee to address the high rate of student failures at the Bar Course, as highlighted in the Auditor General's report for the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

Othembi attributed the poor pass rate to various factors, including budgetary constraints, inadequate facilities, and individual concentration levels. He pointed out that the Kampala campus had the lowest pass rate at 38%, while other campuses like Mbarara and Lira performed comparatively better.

Othembi cited disruptions at the Kampala campus, such as late arrivals, early departures, and social events like weddings and marriage introductions, as hindrances to student performance. He also mentioned the distractions faced by lecturers, such as urgent court matters, which affected their ability to teach effectively.

LDC is the only institution in Uganda that admits law graduates to obtain diplomas in legal practice.

The centre has faced criticism over falling academic standards, absenteeism of lecturers, overcrowding, and the quality of students admitted for the Bar Course.

Many lawyers admitted to LDC fail to complete the course within the standard 11 months, often requiring multiple exam sittings and extending their graduation to four years.

In an effort to address the issue of sub-standard students, LDC introduced pre-entry exams in 2010.

Although the results improved initially, with 105 out of 283 students passing the 2010/11 bar course final exams, the success rate declined in subsequent years.

The roles of the LDC director include serving as the accounting officer, providing overall administration and management, offering strategic leadership, implementing policies made by the management committee, and establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders.

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