Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Adekunle Ajasin University and the Government of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN over alleged unfair and arbitrary tuition hike, abuse of power, lack of free, prior, and informed consultation as well as a fundamental breach of legitimate expectations of students.
In the Originating Summons filed last Friday at the High Court of Ondo State, Akure, SERAP argues that the power of the Ajasin University and Ondo State government to change policy is constrained by the legal duty to be fair, among other constraints imposed by law.
A change of policy which would otherwise be legally unexceptionable, according to SERAP may be held unfair by reason of prior action, or inaction, by the authority. There is no overriding public interest in the tuition hike.
According to SERAP, “A public authority possesses powers only to use them for public good. This imposes the duty to act fairly and to adopt a procedure which is fair-play in action. The tuition hike by the Ajasin University and Ondo State government amounts to a broken promise and breach of established practice of notice or consultation. The unfairness of the lack of consultation cannot be overridden by any countervailing consideration. Therefore, the absence of consultation amounts to an unlawful process of tuition hike by the Defendants.”
SERAP said that, not less than 80 per cent of the students will adversely be affected should the Honourable Court not stop this excessive and unjustified increase in school fees.
Adding that the University and the Government of Ondo State arbitrarily, abruptly and outrageously increased and without any free, prior and informed consultation, the school fees of students from N35,000 to N180,000 (for fresher); and from N27,000 to N100,000 (for returning students); and N80,000 for final students.
The suit filed on SERAP’s behalf by Timothy Adewale and Olaniji Olabinjo read in part: “The students have the right to free, prior and informed consultation before any change in fees is effected by the Defendants. The hike in school fees is a breach of the students’ right to equal protection of the law and access to affordable education.”