The Federal High Court sitting in Jos on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, ordered one Mr Thaddeus Longduut to pay N5million in general and exemplary damages for victimising a Masters Student, Georgia Mark Davou, and causing her not to graduate from her Economics Masters program.
Delivering the Judgment in the case of Georgia Mark Davou V. University of Jos & 1OR FHC/J/CS/38/2018, Justice M.H. Kurya ordered the University of Jos to immediately pay the Plaintiff N100,000 (One hundred thousand naira) only in damages, reinstate the student, change her supervisor and ensure the final defence of her thesis is conducted within a reasonable time.
Georgia, through her lawyer, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason Esq, in 2018 had brought an application against the Defendants for arbitrarily withdrawing the Plaintiff from the Masters program on allegations of poor performance without complying with the school prospectus, granting the Plaintiff access to her results and without according her fair hearing when she petitioned the school for access to her results and on the victimisation by the 2nd Defendant who was the Plaintiff’s Supervisor who had frustrated and stopped the Plaintiff from participating in her final defence.
The defence lawyer, N.V. Denden Esq, argued that the Plaintiff had failed to meet the academic requirements of the school and the Court could not meddle into the domestic affairs of the school by acceding to the Plaintiff’s application for the answer scripts, raw scores and marking scheme to be tendered before the Court.
The Court held that where an institution fails to comply with the rules of fair hearing, it is the duty of the Court to fill the void.
The 2nd Defendant, Mr Thaddeus Longduut, brought an application before the court, praying his name to be struck out as party in the suit.
However, his application being rejected, he failed to enter defence on the orders of court and also failed to lead any evidence.
The Court found that the 1st Defendant did not prove that the Plaintiff had failed, having sat for final exams and written the last chapter of her thesis.
In his judgment, Justice M.H. Kurya, held that the 1st Defendant, did not accord the Plaintiff fair hearing when the Plaintiff presented her Petition but found that the acts of the 2nd Defendant, who lacked the qualifications to supervise the Plaintiff, frustrated her and was the fulcrum that set the chain of causation of violations, noting also that it was unfortunate that the 2nd Defendant having mitigated the Plaintiff’s career, proceeded for his PhD abroad and cited that as the reason why he could not file his defence.
The Court ordered the 2nd Defendant to pay the damages into the Plaintiff’s account before taking any other legal steps on the judgment.
Responding to the judgment, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason Esq thanked the Court and said the judgment was a laser intervention on who bears the liability for the victimisation of students, noting that the judgment marks a watershed and will go a long way in improving accountability in Nigeria’s education sector, especially in tertiary institutions.