Architects move to resolve dispute over qualifying examination

NIA president, Festus Adibe Njoku

Fresh moves are being made by the new leadership of Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) to resolve the dispute between it and the regulatory body, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) over examinations and registration of architects.

There had been disagreement between the institute and ARCON, as well as subsequently litigations by some aggrieved members on who should be responsible for conducting qualifying examinations.

But the recent decision of a Federal High Court, Lagos, which nullified the claim by some of the officials led by former president of NIA, that ARCON, the regulatory body of architecture profession in the country, has been dissolved and therefore has no power to sanction erring members of NIA has opened a new lease for the architects.

NIA president, Festus Adibe Njoku, who was elected president of the institute in November last year, said henceforth, the body would not be taking two examinations, but one.

“After the clearing of the backlogs that caused the problem, the one examination would take place anytime within the year (2018)”, he said.

Njoku, who was reacting to the latest court verdict over the disagreement in Lagos, said, it was false to state that NIA took its regulatory body to court, stressing that at no time, between last year and two years ago, did NIA take ARCON to court.

He explained that four individuals, namely: the immediate past president Tonye Braide, Abimbola Ajayi, David Majekodunmi and Dike Emmanuel, all architects and officials in Braide’s era in their individual capacity, went to court, challenging that the regulatory body, having been dissolved, according to them, does not have the power to invite them to a disciplinary hearing.

According to him, as citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they have a right to go to court as individuals, but that at no time did the Council mandated them to go to court and that there was no time they stated that they were representing the Council.

“Even the judgment did not say NIA but only mentioned these four people. NIA never took ARCON to court; neither did it say that ARCON has been dissolved.

“Rather four members of NIA went to court to say that ARCON has actually been dissolved and they lost the case.”

Njoku narrated that it all started when the immediate past president, Braide, set up an education board that introduced people who just did their examinations in 2014 to be in examination board in 2015.
The regulatory body in turn, faulted the act and requested that the people be removed from the examination board.

This however was not granted, leading to the regulatory body not recognizing the examination.

He stressed that it affected the September 2016, March 2017 and September 2017 sets.

“The regulatory body now said, we want to see all the documents pertaining to the examination, their registration and project. Since, I came in by November 25, those documents were sent to the regulatory body by December 22 for them to go through the process of qualifying them for the examination. The moment they finish, they would register the candidates who are found qualified.”

ARCON, he said, has not finally come up with registered candidates and that they cannot go further until they are registered. That is the process of reuniting the institute, he noted.

In addition, he stated that they would be bringing back their position as the pacesetters of the profession within the continent, having suffered credibility setback recently. “Once, we have done that we would regain the respect that the country’s commands.”

On whether the action of the regulatory body does not constitute a bottleneck to the candidates, Njoku remarked that you don’t say because somebody is suffering too much and go ahead to pass him. ARCON, he maintained, would be the one to register those candidates as well as be the one to give them a number that qualifies them to practice.

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ARCONFestus Adibe NjokuNIA
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