A Federal High Court sitting in Bauchi has set aside the expulsion of a student of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU).
In a fundamental rights enforcement suit No. FHC/BAU/CS/24/2013, Mr Victor Oboh Alom, a 300 level student of Electrical and Electronics Engineering of ATBU, had approached the court challenging the University’s decision to expel him.
Alom had been expelled by the school in 2013 on the allegation that he was caught entering the examination hall with foreign materials.
The student said that after investigation by the Examination Misconduct Committee of the School of Engineering, he was found not guilty of examination malpractice.
He said that he was later invited by the University’s Senate Examination Misconduct Committee which, after investigating the case, also found him not guilty of examination malpractice, and recommended a warning letter to the student for disturbing in the examination hall.
The student said that after the warning letter, he sought for transfer to University of Agriculture Makurdi, but was issued with the expulsion letter.
Delivering the judgement, Hon. Justice M. Shitu Abubakar declared that, although the counsel for the defendant argued and submitted section D of the University Examination Misconduct Regulation and Student Handbook, the punishment for being in possession of foreign materials in the Examination Hall is expulsion, “he didn’t care to tender them for evidence for the court to study them and reach an opinion.”
Justice M.S. Abubakar stated that these documents, if they existed, ought to be produced before the court.
“In the circumstance, therefore, I do not agree with the defendant’s submission that these purported documents have given power to the Senate of the defendant to expel the plaintiff or any student for that matter for mere possession of foreign material without establishing malpractice or cheating in an examination as is the case in this case,” the judge stated.
The judge said that he had studied the act establishing ATBU, “particularly Cap. AL LFN, 2004, particularly SS 8 and 20 thereof, which deal with the function of the Senate and that of the Vice Chancellor in relation to discipline of student, but I am unable to see where the Senate is empowered to expel a student without establishing examination malpractice or cheating against him during examination.”
Justice Abubakar said he agreed with the submission of the counsel to the plaintiff that the plaintiff has proved his case “on the preponderance of evidence as required by S.137 of the Evidence Act, 2011. I also find that the defendant acting through its Senate misdirected itself and expelled the plaintiff without justifiable reason, thereby occasioning him miscarriage of justice”
The judge declared the expulsion of the student null and void and without effect and ordered the University to immediately reinstate the student with full rights and privileges as a student of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University.
The judge also ordered that N1 million be paid to Alom as general damages.
Acknowledging the judgement, counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Chinenye Nwogu, hailed the verdict as a vindication of his client’s innocence.