Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria
Another legal victory against tyranny at the University of Ilorin
Education Rights Campaign
27 June 2006
Less than one year after the Federal High Court, Ilorin entered judgement in favour of the 49 lecturers sacked by the recalcitrant University of Ilorin Authorities in May 2001, the same Court on Wednesday, 21st June, 2006 ordered the authorities of the same University to release, without further delay, the withheld final statement of results of two former student activists of the institution namely, Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina.
In addition to the order granted by the Court compelling the UNILORIN authorities to release all academic records and degrees of the two activists, the presiding judge, Justice Chukwura Nnamani also awarded the total sum of Twelve Million Naira (N12,000,000.00) damages to the two activists against the UNILORIN authorities. While the sum of Seven Million Naira (N7,000,000.00) damages was awarded in favour of Lanre Akinola, the sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000.00) was awarded to Rasheedat Adesina.
The two former student activists, Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina had since 1999 and 2001 respectively completed their courses of study but the UNILORIN authorities under the leadership of both the immediate past Vice-chancellor, Professor S.O. AbdulRaheem and incumbent Vice-chancellor, Professor Shamsudeen Amali refuse to release their final statement of results over their involvement in the student unionism while on campus. Even, the intervention in 2001 of the "Resolution Committee on Politically Victimized and Rusticated Students" headed by the then Special Adviser on Education to President Olusegun Obasanjo did not sway the UNILORIN authorities to release final statement of results of the duo.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) welcomes wholeheartedly the judgement of the Federal High Court, Ilorin and calls on the UNILORIN authorities to obey with immediate effect the order of the Court. We dare to say it is inhuman and barbaric for the UNILORIN authorities to continue to withhold the final statement of results of the activists more than seven and five years respectively after successful completion of their courses of study (Statistics and Industrial Chemistry respectively) when the duo have not committed any offence except their leadership roles in student unionism and campaign for better learning and welfare conditions while on campus.
Even, if these former student activists truly committed the offence they have been alleged of, the withholding of their results for seven years is enough to atone for such offence. the presiding judge, Justice Chukwura Nnamani emphasized this when he stated in his judgement thus, "I am certainly against the violence acts of students but punishment for such violent acts should not be excessive but appropriate proportionate. The withholding of the plaintiff’s result for more than 7 years or thereabout for seeking redress in a court of law or taking part in a student demonstration for which other students have been pardoned and graduated is in my humble opinion not proportionate but excessive".
It is quite unfortunate that while the alleged offence against the activists took place in 1998 during the leadership of the immediate past Vice-chancellor, Professor S.O. AbdulRaheem, the incumbent Vice-chancellor, Professor Shamsudeen Amali did not deem if fit to redress the injustice meted out to these activists. The refusal of Professor Amali to release the final statement of results, almost four years after he became the Vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin is no doubt in obedience to the dictate of the immediate past Vice-chancellor, Professor S.O. AbdulRaheem who incidentally still has strong influence on the current Vice-chancellor and has vowed as far back as 1998 not to release the final statement of results of the activists unless they dropped their political belief – socialism.
But, now that the court of law which is superior to the dictate of immediate past Vice-chancellor has ordered the UNILORIN authorities to release their final statement of results and pay them the sum of Twelve Million Naira (N12,000,000.00) as damages for wasting seven years of these young Nigerians, we sincerely hope that the order of the court will not be treated with contempt.
We wish to counsel UNILORIN authorities to stop wasting the limited financial resources of the University on unnecessary and fruitless court cases but rather use such resources to improve both academic and welfare conditions of students and staff on campus. It is an open fact that huge amount of money running into millions of Naira is being spent on court cases by the University of Ilorin as more than 70% of civil cases at the Federal High Court, Ilorin involve UNILORIN one way or the other.
In conclusion, we wish to state that persecuting student activists who voice their opposition to deplorable conditions on campus and in the Nigeria is not in the overall best interest of the country. The presiding judge of the Federal High Court, Ilorin, Justice Chukwura Nnamani also expressed this view when he stated thus, "By way of digression, may I suggest that our University system should strive to produce future leaders and the followers of this country who are bold, sensitive and daring. And this can be achieved by making them conscious of their fundamental rights to speech, expression, movement and association. There is no better way of achieving this noble objective than by the University authorities themselves exhibiting respect to these fundamental rights so that students could easily imbibe these virtues and make them part of their system in their future enedavours. In this manner, the docility of Nigerians which had impeded social, economic and political progress of this nation will be a thing of past. Cowing or intimidating students who tend to voice out their objections to certain policies of University authority is not in the overall best interest of the nation".
We therefore call on the lovers of justice in the country to appeal to and prevail on the UNILORIN authorities to obey the validly and rightly made order of the Federal High Courts, Ilorin by without delay releasing the final statement of results of Lanre Akinola and Rasheedat Adesina and paying the sum of Twelve Million Naira (N12,000,000.00) damages awarded by the Court to the two activists.
For and on behalf of Education Rights Campaign (ERC)