⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Idris Olatokunbo Olarewaju v. University Of Lagos & Ors (2014) – CA
– Interference of Court in University matters;
1. Idris Olatokunbo Olarewa Ju
1. University of Lagos;
2. University of Lagos Council;
3. College of Medicine (University of Lagos);
4. Vice Chancellor, University Of Lagos;
5. Prof. Olalekan Abdu (PROVOST COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS);
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
TIJJANI ABUBAKAR, J.C.A.
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– Chris Ikemezie
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Taiwo Osipitan, SAN.
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
The Appellant in this appeal, enrolled into the Medical college of the University of Lagos to read medicine in 1993, expecting to be awarded MBBS, upon successful completion of his studies. He sat for four compulsory core subjects in his 5th year; the four core subjects are, (Obstetrics Gynecology, Pediatrics, Medicine and Surgery). Results of these subjects were then published indicating that Appellant met Examiners requirements, and therefore passed the said subjects. On the 25th day of September, 2001, Appellant applied to the Respondents to be issued letter for his induction by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council. In response to this request, the Respondents replied to say that Appellant could not be issued the letter because he did not pass pediatrics and that the publication in 1998 where he was shown to have passed the subject was made in error.
Appellant became aggrieved and therefore approached the Federal High Court and took out writ against the Respondents claiming as follows:
1. A DECLARATION that the plaintiff had passed all the core courses and in particular; (i) Obstetrics and Gynecology (ii) Pediatrics (iii) Medicine and (iv) Surgery.
2. A DECLARATION that the plaintiff had fulfilled all the requirements of the 1st Defendant and in particular the 1st Defendant for the award of MBBS Degree, and cannot be compelled to resit pediatrics examination or any examination at all.
3. A DECLARATION that the plaintiff is entitled to be issued with a letter of induction as a graduating MBBS, Student by the 3rd Defendant.
4. AN ORDER of Court directing the 3rd Defendant to forthwith clear the Plaintiff and issue to him a letter of induction as a graduating MBBS Student of the 3rd Defendant Institution.
5. AN ORDER directing the Defendants to issue the Plaintiff with his qualifying certificate as a graduating MBBS Student of the 3rd Defendant.
6. The sum of N5m (Five Million Naira) as compensation to the Plaintiff for the loss of years, embarrassment and the psychological trauma caused to the plaintiffs by the action of the Defendants.
Appellants suit before the Federal High Court Presided over by Aliyu J went to trial, both parties called evidence, at the conclusion of trial the claim was dismissed on the 27th day of November, 2008. Appellant became dissatisfied with the decision of the lower Court and filed Notice of Appeal to this Court on the 14th day of January, 2009.
1. Whether it was in error that the Respondents published the result in 1998 that the Appellant passed pediatrics examination held in 1998?
2. Whether the Academic Board can avoid result approved by the University Senate?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. The Respondents discovered the error and made efforts first to investigate the allegation of fraud by setting up the Afonja Panel, and following its conclusion on the report, Appellant was granted opportunity to rewrite the examination, he declined the offer. What this appears to mean in my humble understanding is that the Respondents saw the error and were prepared to grant redress to the Appellant in line with the regulations of the University to rewrite the examination. Appellant refused to quickly grab the opportunity offered to him; his major grievance was that there was fraud in the computation of his results. Appellant through PW1 said there was fraud. Fraud is a knowing misrepresentation of the truth, or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment, it is also a misrepresentation made recklessly without belief in its truth to induce another person to act, See Blacks Law Dictionary Eighth Edition page 685. Where there is allegation of fraud in civil proceedings the particulars of the alleged fraud must be pleaded and strictly proved.
ii. This Court is guided by the above decision and the decision in Unilorin v. Adesina (supra), we are of the view that there is no infraction on the right of the Appellant, we have therefore chosen to resist the invitation by the Appellant to unwittingly convert the Court to a degree awarding institution, by delving into complex issues of reviewing examination scripts, grades scored by a student and whether results were properly computed and released or not, issues that are clearly outside the business of Courts. Where there is error on the part of the University in the computation of Students results and the University gives cogent and convincing reasons for the error and offers the Student opportunity to re-sit examination, the University cannot be said to have committed fraud or deliberate infraction on the right of the student as to justify judicial intervention. In the instant appeal the Respondents having offered the Appellant the opportunity to re-sit the examination have clearly demonstrated good faith in their actions while treating Appellants case. I therefore hold the view that there was error in the computation of Appellants results and the Respondents gave good, substantial and verifiable reasons for the error as rightly found and held by the learned trial Judge.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. The learned trial Judge came to the conclusion that, the Senate could not have approved Appellants results as they were. The learned trial judge said as follows at page 574 of the record of appeal: “There are many stages as shown by evidence, that the results passed before it reached the Senate, This has been adequately explained in this case. It is logical that with the statement of result of the plaintiff at the Academic office dated May 1999, the Senate could not have ratified his results if it were laid before it.” The duty to evaluate evidence and make primary findings is the duty of the trial Judge, unless it is shown that the trial Judge failed to conduct proper evaluation in line with the established principles of law, the Appellate Court cannot interfere with such findings.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
The burden of first proving a fact is usually on the plaintiff who brought the action, if the plaintiff adduces evidence which reasonably satisfies the Court, that the fact sought to be proved is established, the burden of proof shall now lie on the party against whom judgment will be entered if no more evidence is adduced, this chain goes on successively until the issues raised in the pleadings are completely and effectively dealt with. – Tijjani Abubakar, J.C.A. Olarewaju v. Unilag (2014)
Conduct of examinations and assessment of the work of students by the examiners has always fallen within the exclusive domestic affairs of the University, and unless there is clear evidence of glaring infraction on the rights of the student, such assessment is not open to judicial review, See: THORNE V. UNIVERSITY OF LONDON (1966) 2 QB 237, AKINTEMI V ONWUMECHILI (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt.1) P. 68. Where it is found that in dealing with domestic affairs the University commits breach of civil rights and obligations of a student the Court will assume jurisdiction, – Tijjani Abubakar, J.C.A. Olarewaju v. Unilag (2014)
Estoppel is a doctrine in common law jurisdictions recognized both at law and equity, the principle protects a party who would suffer detriment if for instance Defendant says or does something to induce an expectation and plaintiff relies on the expectation and would suffer detriment if that expectation were false, it is also defense that prevents a plaintiff from enforcing legal rights or from relying on a set of facts that would give rise to enforceable rights, if that enforcement or reliance would be unfair to the defendant. – Tijjani Abubakar, J.C.A. Olarewaju v. Unilag (2014)
The duty to evaluate evidence and make primary findings is the duty of the trial Judge, unless it is shown that the trial Judge failed to conduct proper evaluation in line with the established principles of law, the Appellate Court cannot interfere with such findings. – Tijjani Abubakar, J.C.A. Olarewaju v. Unilag (2014)
Pleading alone cannot establish the facts pleaded without evidence. Failure to prove pleaded facts would leave the pleadings abandoned and liable to be struck out. – NIMPAR, J.C.A. Olarewaju v. Unilag (2014)