Over three years of litigation was concluded last week after a Federal High Court in Jos, Plateau State, awarded a total of N5.1 million against a lecturer and the management of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) as damages for victimising a student.
Georgia Davou, a student of the school’s Masters degree programme in Economics, was withdrawn from the university in a controversial manner in 2017.
The woman, who had some ‘issues’ with her project supervisor, Thaddeus Longduut, was denied access to her result and was eventually asked to leave the school, midway into the two-year graduate programme, on account of poor grades.
Prior to the withdrawal, Mr Longduut had allegedly refused to approve her thesis and consequently, she was not allowed to write the external exam.
Although PREMIUM TIMES could not ascertain the cause of the differences between the duo, the woman’s lawyer, Gloria Ballason, said it was not on grounds of sexual advances.
“There are allegations but she does not think so. She is married with a kid and even herself, when asked, said the man never demanded such from her,” Mrs Ballason, who is also the elder sister of the victim, told our correspondent.
Meanwhile, last Wednesday, Justice M.H. Kurya ruled that Mr Longduut and the school management should pay Mrs Davou N5 million and N100,000 respectively in general and exemplary damages.
The judge also ordered that Mrs Davou be reinstated, adding that the school should change her supervisor and ensure the final defence of her thesis is done within reasonable time.
How school frustrated ADR efforts
Mrs Ballason told PREMIUM TIMES that her sister-cum-client did not seek redress in court until all options of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) failed.
“Before the time the master’s programme elapsed, she had done her thesis and done her exams and she had done her internal defence. He was making her case difficult. She would submit her chapters and he would not treat them. He didn’t allow her to sit for the external exam.
“She was the only student who was withdrawn from the entire masters programme. She saw her name on the notice board.”
Mrs Ballason said her sister wrote a petition to the office of the Vice-Chancellor to register her grievances but was utterly surprised that the letter was not found when she went to the Vice Chancellor’s office for a follow-up.
“She had to send another through the postal service and that was when they responded that she had failed an exam.”
The school rules allow a resit in case a student fails an examination and when it is a case of total failure, the student would be sent an advisory to disengage from the programme.
But according to the lawyer, Mrs Davou was neither shown her results nor issued an advisory.
Mrs Ballason also narrated how her meetings with the vice-chancellor and some other officials of the school for a dialogue, yielded no results.
“She (Mrs Davou) had suffered miscarriages and was slipping into depression. We wanted to know the exact issues and access to her results.”
Owing to the refusal of the school to release the results of Mrs Davou, she proceeded to court in 2018.
“With all the options of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) shut down, we then filed a case. No fair hearing. No committee was set up. In our filing, we included all that,” Mrs Ballason said.
While the school was made the first defendant, Mr Longduut was included in the suit as the second defendant.
“We demanded that the answer script and marking guide be brought to court. Their argument was that we could not interfere in the domestic affairs of the university.
“The lecturer demanded that his name should be struck out because it was an issue for the university. Our response was that the whole issue started with him.”
She noted that up till the end of the sittings, the accused lecturer did not show up in court, not to mention entering a defence as expected of him under the law.
“He never did. When the court asked, they said he had gone abroad for his PhD.”
Speaking on the court judgment, Mrs Ballason said the verdict of Justice Kurya was owing to the fact that all efforts to get Mr Longduut to court failed and they found that the first defendant did not prove that Mrs Davou had failed.
“One, because he had flouted the order of the court by refusing to enter defence. Second, he had gone abroad to study and they had sought adjournment to bring him but never did,” she stated as reasons for the outcome of the court process.
She explained that four million naira out of the five million naira awarded against Mr Longduut was for the trauma caused her client and for “mitigating her career.”
Meanwhile, when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES, the school’s spokesperson, Abdullahi Abdullahi, refused to comment on the claims of Mrs Davou’s lawyer.
He, however, said the university has applied for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment and would take its time to study it before taking a position.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To place an advert here . Call Willie - +2348098788999