Akwa Ibom Government appeals ruling to pay damages to 6,000 students
Akwa Ibom State government has appealed the judgment of the High Court of Etinan Division, asking it to pay damages to 6,000 students of defunct College of Agriculture, Obio Okpa.
The students were denied certificates after graduation, following a law by the House of Assembly, which proscribed the college.
The incident occurred during the ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio administration.
In a judgment by Justice Pius Odiong in December, the court ordered the government to pay N1 million and N500,000 to HND and ND graduates.
It ruled in favour of the students, directing the government to pay for the wasted years and losses incurred.
However, the government, in an appeal filed at the Court of Appeal, Calabar, Cross River State, through Justice Bassey J. Ekanem, is seeking an order to set aside the judgment.
Justice Odiong held that “as duly admitted students of the now defunct Akwa Ibom State College of Agriculture, Obio Akpa, who paid school fees and other sundry fees up to date; attended lectures; wrote and passed examinations and fulfilled the prescribed conditions for graduation, the plaintiffs, as of right, were entitled to be awarded their certificates at the National and Higher National Diploma levels.”
The government, in its five grounds of appeal, argued that the four appellants were not vested with the responsibility of issuing any certificate to the respondents.
“The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Commissioner for Agriculture, Commissioner for Education and Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, none of the appellants were vested with the responsibility of issuing any certificate to the respondents. The college being a corporate person was vested with such responsibility.
“The college being a corporate body with perpetual succession had a legal personality of its own and was responsible for any of its action or inaction. It had its own life and any decision taken by the college was not directed by any of the defendants.”
Counsel to the respondents Ada Okonkwo filed a cross appeal, asking the Court of Appeal, Calabar, to increase the award of damages to N5 million for HND graduates and N2.5 million for ND graduates, as against N1 million and N500,000, which she said was inadequate to meet the losses incurred by the students.