LAW STUDENT OF THE WEEK — NELLY-HELEN EBRUKA

After winning the African Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition and emerging Runner-up at the International finals, Nelly has not been resting on her oars. In a recent chat with Legal Pages, she addressed how her interest in Space Law grew, her other commitments towards space law, student leadership and volunteer services.

Kindly introduce yourself

I am Nelly Ebruka, a final year law student of the University of Calabar serving currently as the president of the International Law Students Association and Chairperson of the Space Law Club.

As a law student, you seem to have your area of interest mapped out quite early enough. We’ll like to know what sparked the flair for space law?

I am a passionate space and astronomy enthusiast, so when I discovered through research that there was this fascinating field of law that regulates space activities among others, I was intrigued and excited about it. I started reading space law to satisfy my curiosity in my second year. I found it intriguing since it was related to an area I was naturally passionate about.

Nelly at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S.A.

Asides from the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Competition, what other activity have you been involved in, in furtherance of your interests in Space Law?

Notably, I’ve been able to establish the space law club of my university under ILSA. So basically, we inspire other space enthusiasts and students who are interested in the field. We’ve done a local moot on space law and have more activities coming up in the year. I also applied and got elected to be a prospective member of the International Institute of Space Law. In addition, I am a volunteer for the space law and policy working group of the Space Generation Advisory Council, recently giving my contribution and quota for the growth of the field here in Africa at the last Space generation workshop that held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

You seem to be involved in many leadership and volunteer roles. How have these roles helped in your development as a law student?

Volunteering for Associations and being a student leader for about five years now has built my network greatly and also positively influenced how I think and perceive situations and people. As a law student, it has expanded my horizon and I have learnt how to properly relate and work with friends and students in other fields. And importantly, I didn’t just study law, I practised though peripherally at the student level as the solicitor General of the Student Union Government and I have been conferred with the honours of the Senior Advocate of the Moot and Mock Society of my University. All these activities have exposed me to diverse social and legal skills.

What peculiar challenges do you face trying to maintain balance amidst several extracurricular activities? How have you overcome them?

The most reoccurring challenge student leaders have to tackle is that of time management and I have had my fair share of addressing this issue. Bearing in mind that the primary reason I am in school is to study hard, get good grades and graduate as expected by my Parents, family and friends, I had no choice but to put in more hours of work than the average student. In order to travel for conferences, visa interviews, competitions, I inevitably had to miss classes and sometimes assessments and exams. It was particularly difficult so I had to always prioritize my activities, pen down my plans and liaise with my faculty management at all times and so far they have been very supportive and I’m grateful for that.

Would you consider working in the Nigerian academia? Why?

Yeah, it will be great to work in the academic sector. I have been a student in Nigeria, for almost all my life and I have noticed the numerous challenges that students face every day, and I will do my best to contribute to the growth of the sector by proffering innovative solutions to these challenges as my contribution to the growth of the country.

If you were to be in a position to proffer a solution to a problem facing Nigeria, what problem would you tackle?

I’d tackle the innumerable educational challenges we have in this country.
It may be cliché but an advanced educational sector that will produce home grown competent, reliable and dependable professionals in diverse fields will go a long way to restructure the country. We have thousands of young people studying redundant courses in our universities, others have no facilities or are using archaic facilities to learn, others are simply illiterate and can’t afford formal or even a proper informal education. If we can revisit our values as a country, we have to look at how we are raising the next generation.

Any other interest asides law?

Yeah. I’m quite interested in space science and astronomy education for young people; recently a founding partner of an NGO (Learnspace foundation) solely dedicated to the promotion of space education in the country. Additionally, it doesn’t seem quite so but I’m a great lover of music, I sing, play the acoustic guitar, the piano and the recorder.

Nelly and the team from the University of Calabar at the International Finals of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot

What tips do you have for Nigerian teams participating in this year’s edition of the Manfred Lachs Moot?

MLSLMC has the capacity to bring out the best in you. It’s not totally about winning the competition (although that’s pretty much a plus), there is a lot to learn during the process of preparing and participating.

For tips I think I’d advice teams to:

• Study the facts of the case thoroughly, understand every aspect of it and don’t impute extravagant assumptions into the facts to suit your arguments
• Pigeon hole the issue properly to the aspects of space law that the case is about. Issues have already been raised, so that should be a great guide.
• Work on your memorials professionally and give in the best in preparing your written submissions with regards to this stipulated structure
• Practise for your oral presentation but avoid recitation because it’s a moot, not a speech
• Be optimistic and understand that it’s a competition, not everyone can win. But if you give in your best there will be no losing either ways you will learn and that’s what counts the end.

Any final words?

I am thankful to God for the family and friends in my life that believe in me and daily inspire me to be the best version of myself.

I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to share my experience on this platform.
Thank you very much Legal Pages!!

Thank you too Nelly.

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