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Varsities closure: S-East students head to court

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By Tony Edike, Enugu
STUDENTS of universities owned by governments of the South East states have gone to court over the lingering industrial dispute between the state governments and members of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU which has led to the closure of the universities in the last four months.

The legal action was instituted at the Federal High Court, Enugu.

The aggrieved students  are among other prayers asking for general damages in the sum of N1billion against the respondents to be shared among the students of the five universities owned by the South East governments for violating their rights.

Respondents in the case include the Minister for Education, National Universities Commission, Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Attorneys General of Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Abia states as well as the governing councils of the five affected universities.

The suit was filed on behalf of the students by an Enugu based legal practitioner, Mr. Ike Maximus Ugwuoke who also doubles as the applicant.

The applicant is also seeking in the suit an order directing the respondents to reopen their respective state universities forthwith or at a later date to be set by the court.

The applicant is also asking the court to declare that the refusal or neglect of the respondents to reopen the state universities in the South East for normal academic and educational training of students amount to interference with freedom to receive and impact idea and information of the students of the universities as guaranteed under section 29(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and their right to education to education guaranteed under article 17 of African Charter on Human Rights as well as a Article 26 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

He also sought a declaration that the refusal of the respondents to

reopen the universities for normal academic duties amount to infringement on the right to human dignity of students of the universities under Section 34 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

In an Affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by Miss Uzoamaka Nwoke, she stated that the applicant had informed her that the students the applicant represents cannot openly challenge the respondents action or hold themselves out for fear of victimization by the respondents in their various academic programmes.

No date has been fixed for mention and hearing of the case.

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Godwin Ibe

Medical Doctor (GP), IT professional, Web Designer, CELTA Certified Teacher of English, Economist and International Trade Marketer.
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