THREE students affected by the recent upward review of university admission cut-off marks by the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Lagos-based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have sued the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the authorities of UNILAG to court over “outrageous cut-off marks decisions.”
The applicants in a suit filed yesterday on their behalf at the Federal High Court, Lagos by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni are seeking an order stopping JAMB, UNILAG and others from implementing the decision.
SERAP and the affected students namely; Adeola Hammed Ayobami, Abass Ololade and Abass Ajibola are also seeking 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 In the suit marked: FHC/L/CS/1139/2015, the applicants ‘contend, “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).”
Apart from JAMB and UNILAG, the applicants named the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education as respondents.
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.”