Saturday, May 27, 2017

SERAP, Students Sue JAMB amd Unilag to Court

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project(SERAP) has sued the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the University of Lagos to court over “outrageous cut-off marks decisions”.

The organization is seeking an order stopping JAMB, UNILAG and others, from implementing the decision. The suit number FHC/L/CS/1139/2015 filed today at the Federal High Courtby Adetokunbo Mumuni on behalf of SERAP and three applicants affected by the cut-off marks decision, the Applicants contend that “the provisions of Section5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act are very clear and unambiguous. The letter andspirit of the provisions is to ensure that the preferences of candidates interms of the university they choose to attend are sacrosanct. Even a contraryor adverse decision by individual university cannot override decision madepursuant to the provisions of Section (5)1)(c)(iii).”

The three other applicants are: Adeola Hammed Ayobami; Abass Ololade; andAbass Ajibola. The Respondents in the suit apart from JAMB and UNILAG are: thePermanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Secretary,Ministry of Education. The suit reads in part: “Given that the 2nd-4th Applicants and severalother candidates across the country are children striving to pursue theireducation, it is argued that the interpretation of Section 5(1)(c)(iii)warrants an assessment of the principle of the best interests of the candidatesaffected and this principle should be taken as a primary consideration whendifferent interests are being considered in order to reach a decision whetherto change the preferences of the candidates.

There should be a guarantee thatthe preferences of the candidates will be respected.” “If a legal provision such as Section 5(1)(c)(iii) is open to more thanone interpretation, the interpretation which most effectively serves thechild’s best interests should be chosen and that in this case will be to fullyrespect their preferences of universities. The failure of the Respondents to considerthe possible negative impact of the decision on the 2nd-4thApplicants and several other candidates across the country amounts to a breachof Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act.” “In Meyer v Nebraska, the court held that human dignity denotes the rightof the individual to acquire knowledge, engage in the common occupations oflife, marry, establish a home and generally enjoy those privileges longrecognized as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness. This means thatseveral candidates across the country are entitled to choose appropriateacademic environment they consider conductive, to, in the words of the court inthe Meyer case just cited, “acquire knowledge”.

Denying them this fundamentalright amounts to a blatant violation of Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution andSection 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.” “The Applicants urged the court “to that the decision by the Respondentsindividually and/or collectively violates the provisions of the Constitution inthat it has caused several candidates across the country unnecessary mentalsuffering, severe enough to be considered inhumane treatment.” “As the court correctly said in R. v Devon CC ex p. George “… a decision that elicits theexclamation ‘my goodness, that is certainly wrong!’” Therefore, the decision byJAMB, UNILAG and others shouldreceive the ‘most anxious scrutiny’ of the courts because the decision is sooutrageous and in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that nosensible person who had applied his mind to the issue at stake could havearrived at it.” “Recognising a right to dignity is an acknowledgement of the intrinsicworth of human beings: human beings are entitled to be treated as worthy ofrespect and concern.

The Applicants further submits that where treatmenthumiliates or debases an individual showing a lack of respect for, ordiminishing, his or her human dignity or arouses feelings of fear, anguish, asit is the case here, the Honorable Court should hold that a violation ofconstitutional rights have occurred.” “The Applicants submits that the decision by the Respondent to increasethe cut-off point as narrated above is arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair andunjust having being made without any consultation whatsoever and after the 2nd-4thApplicants and several other candidates have been made to believe that thecut-off point would be 180. We further submit that the increase of the cut-offpoint imposes excessive burdens on the candidates concerned.” “The Respondents in reaching their decision to increase the cut-off pointhave not struck a proper balance between competing interests, and the decisionis therefore unreasonable as it has brought considerable damage and sufferingto the candidates across the country, and we urge the Honorable Court to sorule.” Theorganization is seeking the following reliefs:

 

A DECLARATION that the decision by the Respondents individuallyand/or collectively to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publiclythat it would be 180 interferes with the choices and preferences of the 2nd-4thApplicants and several other candidates across the country and thereforeunreasonable, unfair and unjust as it failed to take into account the bestinterest of the Applicants and several other candidates, as children AN ORDER directing the Respondents individually and/orcollectively to reverse the decision to increase the cut-off point to 250 afterstating publicly that it would be 180 and to fully and effectively implementthe publicly announced 180 cut-off point ANORDER restrainingthe Respondents individually and/or collectively from going ahead to implementthe decision to increase the cut-off point to 250 instead of the publiclyannounced 180 cut-off point FURTHER OR OTHER RELIEFS as the Honorable Court deems fit in the circumstance No datehas been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Signed,
Adetokunbo Mumuni
Executive Director
SERAP
Lagos,
Nigeria
www.serap-nigeria.org 27/7/2015

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