Tony John, Port Harcourt
Students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) have dragged their Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ndowa Lale, to a Federal High Court, in Port Harcourt, over their suspension as a result of non-payment of tuition fees.
The students (names withheld), through their counsel, Ameghua Lazina, explained to newsmen that the clients could not be suspended or demoted as result of nonpayment of tuition fees, which ought to have been paid within a specified time
Ameghua said the students had chosen to express their fundamental rights by challenging the draconian policy of the institution.
The counsel described the students’ suspension as a ‘draconian policy, which is inconsistent with laws, regulations, acts and status of the university.
Ameghua said: Ordinarily, the matter today, is for mention, but the defendant did not appear today, for the matter.
‘’The Vice Chancellor cannot be alpha dominus with respect to determining the destiny of the students, who arguably holds the future of this great country, where draconian policies, statements are made, that are not planned with the positions of the law and the act which establishes the University. Then, it must be challenge.
‘’The students have challenge the policy statement by the university authority in respect to their suspension, expulsion and demotion as a result of non-payment of their tuition fees within a specified time, that is basically the position.
‘’The students have risen to their fundamental rights to challenge such draconian policy where it is inconsistent with the laws, regulations, acts and status of the university.
‘’We have written to the university after having the consent and authorization of the students, we have served the university a pre-action notice which they deliberately ignored and the law must take is course.
‘’If the school have nothing to say the court will look at the questions that have been raised by the claimant upon which would also arrived at the substantive justice of the case as required.
‘’The students are demanding specifically reversal of that policy, the policy cannot stand, they should return back to studies, those of them that ought to be cleared for graduation should be cleared and they should be allow to pay their school fees.
‘’Their demand is that you cannot demote them even after exhausting a period of the semesters as required by the university. They have passed their exams and you are now telling them to return to that particular level which they have gone through. That is impossible’’, the counsel expressed.
Meanwhile, the trial Judge, Justice Aminu Muhammad, has adjourned the matter June 29, for hearing.