Rivers University under fire for expelling student with ‘speech and hearing challenges’

Rivers-State-University-of-Science-and-Technology-rsust

Several lawyers and human rights activists have criticized the Rivers State University of Science and Technology for expelling a student over claims of having disabilities.

The University, on January 30, 2015, handed a letter of expulsion to Jane Ottah, 28, after it claimed it had observed that she was “medically challenged and have hearing and speech difficulties.”‎

“Since the University does not have special communication facilities, the Vice-Chancellor has directed that you be de-registered on health grounds‎,” the school registrar’s letter to Ms. Ottah read.

“I am in the circumstance, directed to inform you that you have been de-registered on health grounds with immediate effect. You are therefore advised to hand over all University property(ies) in your possession to your Head of Department and thereafter leave the campus.”

Ms. Ottah, who was in her first year in the Department of Educational Foundation, has continued to insist there is nothing wrong with her.

“Crude treatment”‎ for the physically challenged‎

In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, lawyers and human‎ rights activists condemned the action of the university.‎

“Cold shivers were running through my spine as I was hearing this,” said Oluyinka Oyeniji, a Trustee at the Human Rights Foundation, a Lagos-based nongovernmental organization that guarantees equal access to justice.

“It is inconceivable, it is rude, it is uncouth, it is debasing to deprive anybody of the right to education because of physical challenges or disabilities.

“This calls again to question the pending bill before the National Assembly on protection of the rights of the physically challenged.”

For the past 12 years, Nigerian human rights activists have continued – though unsuccessfully – to push for the passage of the National Disability Act in the National Assembly.

Only Lagos State has passed the bill into law.‎
‎‎
“Even lawyers in law school have been complaining. That the law school itself is not ‎adapted to the use of physically-challenged,” Mr. Oyeniji said.

“For those who are blind, I’m aware, I’ve spoken with some of them before, there’s only one computer at the Abuja Law School for their use. Whereas every study materials for law school students now are in soft copy, with the aid of information technology.

“So it is high time that we have ‎this legislation domesticated in all states of the federation to guarantee and protect the rights of the physically challenged.”

Another activist, Betty Abah, said the “crude treatment” of Ms. Ottah by the management of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology “borders on the absurd”.

“Here are people who are paid and who naturally should be empathetic and help her academic dreams come to fruition in spite of her challenges. These are the same persons thwarting those dreams,” said Ms. Abah, Executive Director, Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE).

“I understand that when she visited the clinic, when her so-called disability was discovered, she was not with her hearing aids, and so far, against all odds, she has managed to pass her exams. Why would they be so callous, so inhuman?

“And, the way her heartbroken father was also sent out by the insensitive HOD, you would realize the set of people running that school. The university should review its decision and reinstate her, so that she can acquire tertiary education like her contemporaries.

“Not to talk of the VC that called her ‘deaf and dumb.’ Pray, is there a university for people with disabilities in Nigeria? ‎Haven’t they seen blind lawyers, deaf teachers? Or was it a crime for her refusing to sit at home and bemoan her fate? A big shame on them.”

Jane's Post UME score
Jane’s Post UME score

Ms. Ottah was admitted into the Department of Educational Foundations in September 2014, although she initially applied to study Business Administration.

Before securing admission, Ms. Ottah had passed her West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination with three distinctions and five credits; scored 205 in the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam; and passed the university’s post-UME test.

At the time she got her letter of expulsion, Ms. Ottah was writing her first semester examination.

After phone calls, text messages, and e-mails to the University’s Registrar failed to get a response, PREMIUM TIMES contacted Blessing Didia, the Vice-Chancellor.

“The matter happened in January as you said. I came from the University of Port Harcourt to become VC here in August,” said Mr. Didia, a professor of Medicine.

“This is the first time I have heard about the case.”

When asked whether he would review the case now that he is aware, Mr. Didia said: “They don’t admit deaf and dumb here. And if what you said really happened, the vice chancellor then must have seen reasons why she could not be taught here.”

‘Seek legal action’‎

Mr. Oyeniji advised the expelled student to institute legal action for discrimination against her person, against the University, the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Chancellor, and the visitor to the institution.‎‎

“If that institution is a state-owned institution, then the governor of that state is answerable to the lady. If it’s a federal institution, the president of the federal republic through the Attorney General of the Federation is answerable to that lady,” he said‎.

“And I’m willing by all means to be able to undertake‎ to force a sacred fundamental human rights which the lady enjoys as of this time pending the passing of the National Assembly Act for the protection of rights of the physically-challenged.”

Mr. Oyeniji added that provision of special facilities is not the responsibility of physically-challenged people.‎‎


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  • West

    Very sad. This is surely Wickedness of the highest order gainst humanity. God will judge and reward the university management accordingly

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    This is quite very sad of the Rivers State university of Technology and inhuman treatment to fellow human being in Rivers State.Something is realy wrong with the people and government official from Rivers State.Human kindness and human-touch are missing in their characters.Very strange people.

  • Maria

    Anything is possible in the jungle…I weep for these animals called university administrators.

    • Höly Wähala

      You weep for everybody over every issue…
      At the rate you’re weeping I doubt that any tears come out of those your cries…
      Why don’t you accept a ‘kleenex’ from me or allow me to cuddle-up with you so I can get the job of wiping off any eventual tears you may weep when the corruption crack really gets whipping. So, biko, save your tears for you will Need them for a Nigeria plundered beyond recognition. @Maria, I’ve got your back still, no shaking. Cry Baby… lol!

      • Wise Head

        Hey, do you know what? Buhari will never touch Rotimi Amaechi no matter what he is accused of stealing. The billions Amaechi is being accused of stealing were probably emptied into the Buhari campaign? So, who is the real thief who emptied Rivers State accounts? Who was paying for the private jets flyingBuhari around during the campaigns? By the way, how did his account which he said had only 1 million naira before the elections balloon to 30 million after the elections? Is he a money doubler or trippler? Rivers people should start promoting the hashtag: #BuhariBringBackOurMoney!!

  • Very Proud Oily IZON Redeemer

    sepration is the only answer—we go with our animals while they remain with their cows in Nigeria

    • Höly Wähala

      I thought na oyel una get, which animals kwa?
      Quit alcohol Deri, that has always been my advise to you… quit gulping coarse ogogoro!

    • Omotolaaraujo

      Don’t talk out loud. It’s quite nauseating.

  • Wise Head

    Hey, do you know what? Buhari will never touch Rotimi Amaechi no matter what he is accused of stealing. The billions Amaechi is being accused of stealing were probably emptied into the Buhari campaign? So, who is the real thief who emptied Rivers State accounts? Who was paying for the private jets flyingBuhari around during the campaigns? By the way, how did his account which he said had only 1 million naira before the elections balloon to 30 million after the elections? Is he a money doubler or trippler? Rivers people should start promoting the hashtag: #BuhariBringBackOurMoney..

    • sam

      Let me tell you.mejority of we Nigerians still trust current APC Buari and Amaechi than the previous PDP Jonathan and Sambo Dasuki/madueke .etc

      • Wise Head

        What a pity. Speak for yourself. Every platform must be utilised to expose hypocrites; that’s what I am doing. People like you are bitter when truth is told, so how can you be redeemed at all? I don’t like hypocrites because they are the real problem of Nigeria. When hypocrites claim to fight corruption, they debase the whole concept. I wonder if you have the ability to understand this!

    • Mephistoheles

      Hey, do you know what? Buhari will blah blah blah ………SHUT THE F*CK UP!

      The article is about a Nigerian University discriminating against a handicapped student.that has already seemingly passed the examinations necessary for admission.

      You are low and sub-human for trying to drag Buhari into this.. To give you an example of how low you are for attempting to turn this into a political issue, imagine this.:People often step in dog sh*t unknowingly. You are not dog sh*t because it is greater than you.
      You are not even the creatures that live in or under dog sh*t. Those ones too are greater than you are.

      We are tempted to say you are equals with the sh*t of those things that eat dog sh*t to, but we may be wrong. You may actually be lower than even that.

      • Wise Head

        APC e-Rats are known by one thing: they insult people when they lack ideas to express. Every platform must be utilised to expose hypocrites; that’s what I am doing. People like you are bitter when truth is told, so how can you be redeemed at all? I don’t like hypocrites because they are the real problem of Nigeria. When hypocrites claim to fight corruption, they debase the whole concept. I wonder if you have the ability to understand this! Do, despicable

  • Omotolaaraujo

    Nigeria does not care about its citizens! There is no mercy there. Inhuman and shameless country!

  • Mephistoheles

    No wonder you folks know nothing.
    Continue destroying all your ‘Steven Hawkins”

  • GbemigaO

    Hear r the VC/ Instead of reviewing the case, he is again confirming tge action. Dumbs

  • anwari

    Barrister Oyeniji, thank you for your kind comments and interest in this matter, God will surely remember you for good. Could you kindly contact the girl to help her institute the legal action you have advised? Miss Ottah pls contact Mr Oyeniji. PT could you kindly link the two? There’s no need for any further delay as regards this issue.