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Varsity Admissions: SERAP sues JAMB, UNILAG, others over ‘Outrageous cut-off Marks’

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

The organization is seeking an order stopping JAMB, UNILAG and others from implementing the decision.

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1139/2015 filed today at the Federal High Court by Adetokunbo Mumuni on behalf of SERAP and three applicants affected by the cut-off marks decision, the “Applicants contend that “the provisions of Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act are very clear and unambiguous.

The letter and spirit of the provisions is to ensure that the preferences of candidates in terms of the university they choose to attend are sacrosanct. Even a contrary or adverse decision by individual university cannot override decision made pursuant to the provisions of Section (5)1)(c)(iii).”

The three other applicants are: Adeola Hammed Ayobami; Abass Ololade; and Abass Ajibola. The Respondents in the suit apart from JAMB and UNILAG are: the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education.

The suit reads in part:

“Given that the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country are children striving to pursue their education, it is argued that the interpretation of Section 5(1)(c)(iii) warrants an assessment of the principle of the best interests of the candidates affected and this principle should be taken as a primary consideration when different interests are being considered in order to reach a decision whether to change the preferences of the candidates. There should be a guarantee that the preferences of the candidates will be respected.”

“If a legal provision such as Section 5(1)(c)(iii) is open to more than one interpretation, the interpretation which most effectively serves the child’s best interests should be chosen and that in this case will be to fully respect their preferences of universities. The failure of the Respondents to consider the possible negative impact of the decision on the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country amounts to a breach of Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act.”

“In Meyer v Nebraska, the court held that human dignity denotes the right of the individual to acquire knowledge, engage in the common occupations of life, marry, establish a home and generally enjoy those privileges long recognized as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness. This means that several candidates across the country are entitled to choose appropriate academic environment they consider conductive, to, in the words of the court in the Meyer case just cited, “acquire knowledge”. Denying them this fundamental right amounts to a blatant violation of Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

“The Applicants urged the court “to that the decision by the Respondents individually and/or collectively violates the provisions of the Constitution in that it has caused several candidates across the country unnecessary mental suffering, severe enough to be considered inhumane treatment.”

“As the court correctly said in R. v Devon CC ex p. George “… a decision that elicits the exclamation ‘my goodness, that is certainly wrong!’” Therefore, the decision by JAMB, UNILAG and others should receive the ‘most anxious scrutiny’ of the courts because the decision is so outrageous and in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the issue at stake could have arrived at it.”

“Recognising a right to dignity is an acknowledgement of the intrinsic worth of human beings: human beings are entitled to be treated as worthy of respect and concern. The Applicants further submits that where treatment humiliates or debases an individual showing a lack of respect for, or diminishing, his or her human dignity or arouses feelings of fear, anguish, as it is the case here, the Honorable Court should hold that a violation of constitutional rights have occurred.”

“The Applicants submits that the decision by the Respondent to increase the cut-off point as narrated above is arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair and unjust having being made without any consultation whatsoever and after the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates have been made to believe that the cut-off point would be 180. We further submit that the increase of the cut-off point imposes excessive burdens on the candidates concerned.”

“The Respondents in reaching their decision to increase the cut-off point have not struck a proper balance between competing interests, and the decision is therefore unreasonable as it has brought considerable damage and suffering to the candidates across the country, and we urge the Honorable Court to so rule.”

The organization is seeking the following reliefs:

A declaration that the decision by the Respondents individually and/or collectively to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publicly that it would be 180 interferes with the choices and preferences of the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country and therefore directly violates Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act Cap 193 of the Laws of the Federation

A Declaration that the cut-off point of 180 set by the 1st Respondent cannot be varied by any university in the country including the 4th Respondent herein as to do so would offend the provisions of Section 5(1)(c)(iii) of the JAMB Act Cap 193 of the Laws of the Federation

A Declaration that the decision by the Respondents individually and/or collectively to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publicly that it would be 180 interferes with the choices and preferences of the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country and therefore directly violates Sections 34 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which respectively guarantee to everyone the right to the dignity of human person and the right to receive and impact ideas

A Declaration that the decision by the Respondents individually and/or collectively to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publicly that it would be 180 interferes with the choices and preferences of the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country and therefore directly violates Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as contained in the Laws of the Federation.

A Declaration that the decision by the Respondents individually and/or collectively to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publicly that it would be 180 interferes with the choices and preferences of the 2nd-4th Applicants and several other candidates across the country and therefore unreasonable, unfair and unjust as it failed to take into account the best interest of the Applicants and several other candidates, as children

It sought an order directing the Respondents individually and/or collectively to reverse the decision to increase the cut-off point to 250 after stating publicly that it would be 180 and to fully and effectively implement the publicly announced 180 cut-off point

The group further sought an order restraining the Respondents individually and/or collectively from going ahead to implement the decision to increase the cut-off point to 250 instead of the publicly announced 180 cut-off point

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

 

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