Sixteen students from three families including a five year old pupil have slammed a N500million suit against Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology in Maiduguri, Borno State, for expelling them from the school.
They said protesting against unjustifiable hike in the school fees could not be a sustainable reason to expel them and subject them to ridicule.
The student litigants, including the five year old (expelled at four) who was in nursery class three before her expulsion, are seeking relief from the court to nullify their expulsion as it was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution and the Child rights Acts.
The suit was instituted by their guardians after the school authority conveyed its decision to expel the students in a letter dated July 4, 2015.
The letter signed by the school principal stated that “the management of Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology is no longer interested in training your wards; therefore they are expelled from the school. The school advise you and your children to keep off the school”.
No further explanation was given as to why the students were asked to leave.
They have therefore approached the court for a redress.
Specifically, the expelled students, including the five year old (expelled at four) who was in nursery class three before her expulsion, are seeking relief from the court to nullify their expulsion as it was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution and the Child rights Acts.
They also wanted an order directing the school management to “render public apology to themfor the embarrassment caused to them within their peers and families without any justification and/or without observing the Rule of Natural Justice before their purported expulsion”.
Counsel to the applicants, Mr A.R. Abdulsalam, faulted the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of the students arguing that their rights to fair hearing were infringed.
“The ideal thing to do is to set a disciplinary committee for them to appear before the committee and say why did you commit this offence but this did not take place that’s why they are fighting for their rights before the court under the fundamental human rights procedure 2009,” Abdulsalam stated.
“We are asking the court to nullify this and secure their fundamental human rights of fair hearing of knowing the offence committed because everybody must be given fair hearing before you can issue punishment.”
Independent investigations revealed that Elkanemi College of Islamic Theology had increased school fees from 18,000 Naira to 29,000 Naira for primary session and 24,000 Naira to 39,000 Naira for the secondary session, a move kicked against by some of the parents who had their kids enrolled in the school.
Twenty-seven parents had jointly written and signed a letter sent to the state government and other stakeholders seeking intervention in the upward review of the school fees.
The letter reads: “Recent Developments in the upward review of school fees at El-Kanemi College have compelled us to seek for the intervention of the Borno Elders Forum with a view to saving the educational career of thousands of our children some of whom are orphans. Coupled with this is the stark reality of hardship and economic downside that has become the lot of the good people in Borno, particularly resulting from the six year insurgency ravaging the state”.
All the students expelled are wards of three out of the parents who signed the letter resulting in a directive from the state government reversing the upward review of the school fees.
But Counsel to the respondents, Mr Abdulwasiu Alfa, dismissed the claim while maintaining that the school’s management did not err in its decision.
“I do not want to insinuate that because it is not part of the processes; the processes filed do not insinuate that the students were withdrawn because of the letter written by their parents.
“The school has guidelines, rules and regulations. Violations of those rules are tantamount to withdrawal of students. The students were found to have violated those rules and disciplinary measures were exercised,” Alfa stated.
Alfa gave the reasons for the expulsion as “not to corrupt the morals of the school. We have other students and if we do not maintain discipline and decorum certainly the standards will fall.”
The presiding judge, Justice Aisha Ali Jos, has adjourned hearing of the case to February 13, 2017.