Justice Ridwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos has fixed April 19, 2018 for judgment on a fundamental human rights suit filed against the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and its registrar by two students of the institution.
The two students had filed the suit against NOUN in December 2015 for allegedly breaching their right to association following their expulsion from the University for spearheading formation of a Students’ Union Government known as Congress of NOUN Students (CONS).
While harping on the need for speedy dispensation of the suit, counsel to the students, Mr. Gabriel Orban, argued on Tuesday that: “The conduct of the respondents before the filing of this suit and their counter affidavits in support of their defence proves well that the applicants’ fundamental rights have been violated and it is likely that it will continue to be violated by the respondents except this court’s intervention and since the court is the last hope of a common man who also constitute the Applicants in this suit.
“We look up to the court to set straight these anomalies enjoyed by the respondents at the detriment of the students and their welfare. We argue with emphasis that the University lacks the competence to deny students the right to association and the press”.
Responding to the applicants’ position, counsels for NOUN, Mr. Abiodun Olatunji and Mr. Nas Ogunsakin argued that the students were not expelled on the basis of association, but for resorting to the press to express their grievances.
Having heard the argument of both parties, Justice Aikawa adjourned to April 19, 2018 for judgement.
The suit was first filed before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun and the judgement slated for April 2016. But the judge granted the University’s application to arrest the reserved judgement and she subsequently stepped down from the suit in strange circumstances.
The students are demanding for “ a declaration that the 1st Respondent’s strong prohibition/non approval of students association/students union government formed to protect students’ lawful interests some of which are listed in their ten points demand from the university is unlawful, illegal and contrary to the right to Freedom of Association provided and guaranteed under Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“that the 1st Respondent’s acts and continuous efforts to prevent its students from holding their lawful meetings to exchange ideas and enhance their interests and welfare is illegal and contrary to right to Freedom of Association guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“that the Respondents’ victimisation of two of its students spearheading the cause of Students Union Government to protect their affected interests by issuing them letters of expulsion dated 11/11/2015, to ward off in totality the association is illegal and contrary to right to Freedom of Association guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).
“ an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents whether by themselves or by their officers, agents, servants, assigns, privies or any other person(s), however called, from further prosecution, conviction and expulsion of any of its students on the basis of their insistence on the exercise of their Fundamental Rights as enshrined under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).