HIGH Court sitting in Yenagoa
has declared as null and void, the
rustication of Micah Diniprema, a
27-year old final year student of the
Faculty of Education of the Niger
Delta University, NDU, Wilberforce
Island, Bayelsa State.
The court ordered the authorities
of the institution to reinstate and
allow him to graduate.
The final year student was
rusticated from the university for
one semester with effect from the
second semester of the 2013/2014
academic session for alleged
misconduct. According to the
authorities, he did not utilize the
available internal means to resolve
a university matter before going to
court.
Diniprema had dragged the
Chairman and Secretary of
the Students Union Electoral
Commission, Dr Comfort
Zuofa and Mr. Barry Tamunoibi
respectively to court to challenge
his disqualification and wrongful
exclusion from the list of candidates
to contest for the position of
students union president in 2013.
However, he was ordered by the
university authority to withdraw the
matter from court only for him to
be rusticated for one semester with
effect from the second semester of the
2013/2014 session in a letter dated
June 2, 2014 “for alleged offence of
misconduct and for not utilizing
available internal means to resolve
a university matter before going to
court.”
In her judgment, the Presiding
Judge, M.A Ayemieye, ordered
the university authorities or their
agents to restrain themselves from
unlawfully frustrating the student
from graduating from the Niger Delta
University.
“I hereby make the following order,
a declaration that the letter dated June
2, 2014 which rusticated the claimant
for one semester with effect from the
second semester of the 2013/2014
academic session is therefore null and
void and is hereby set aside.
“The decision of the disciplinary
committee of the university which
rusticated the student is null and
void on the ground that he was not
given fair hearing before sentence
was passed on him. The act of filling
a suit before the Bayelsa State High
Court of Justice to challenge his
disqualification from the Students
Union election does not constitute a
punishable misconduct under any
law.
“Misconduct was specifically spelt
out thus: forgery, alterations, issues
of mutilation of documents, record,
identity cards and impersonation,
furnishing false information, wilful
damage or destruction of property
belonging to the university, aiding
or inciting others to commit any
of the above acts. So the offence of
which the claimant was punished
with rustication is not contained in
the university student handbook
and any other law and I so hold that
the defendants are hereby restrained
by themselves their agents and all
persons acting on their behalf from
unlawfully frustrating the claimant
from graduating from the Niger Delta
University.”
The judge however, failed to award
damages.
In his reaction, Diniprema, who
described the court ruling as a relief,
said: “Just as the legal dictum said,
where there is a wrong, there is a
remedy, the university wronged me
and today, the court has remedied
that wrong, I know this is a judgment
that is loved by many, irritated by
some and must be respected by
all, irrespective of the fact that no
damages was awarded, but I am still
grateful to God.”
Counsel to the Niger Delta
University, Mr. Oseibide Akpagra,
while reacting to the ruling, said:
“the court is always right and in this
case too, the court is right, we have
no other option than to abide by its
ruling, but on the other hand, as a
client I will present the judgment as
it is before them and if they deem it
necessary to appeal, it is their own
decision to make, but I think it will
be proper for them to abide by the
judgment of the court.”
Also reacting, Counsel to the
student, Mr. Rowland Emem, said:
“My take on the judgment is exactly
what came out except that I was
disappointed on the issue of damages,
but the court actually gave us what
we wanted. It would have been a sad
day for any court to decide that going
to court sanctioned by the constitution
is a misconduct for which a student is
punished by rustication. The court
has vindicated our position that what
the claimant did was not wrong.”

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