By Emmanuel Aziken
UMUAHIA—AN Abia State High Court sitting in Isiukwuato has ordered the restoration of the bachelors degree obtained by Chief Orji Uzor Kalu from the Abia State University.
Kalu, who started his degree programme at the University of Maiduguri had transferred his studies to Abia State University while he was governor. He graduated from the university while he was still in office.
The degree was withdrawn by the university upon the instigation of the Senate sometime in 2013. The Senate cited irregular admission into the school, an action that forced the politician and businessman to go to court. The withdrawal was upon a petition filed to the then visitor of the school, Chief Theodore Orji alleging irregular admission and graduation of Kalu, a petition that affirmed that if the certificate was not withdrawn, it would forever damage the reputation of the university.
The withdrawal of the certificate forced Kalu to go to court.
In his ruling on the issue, Justice Umah Kalu who heard the case averred that the school was wrong to have withdrawn the former governor’s certificate and without even giving him the benefit of fair hearing.
Justice Kalu in his ruling on the case on Wednesday, February 7 affirmed that even God gave Adam the opportunity of making his defence.
While affirming the right of the defendant, that is the university to withdraw the certificate of any individual that may have offended the procedure of obtaining same, the justice, however, affirmed that the university was wrong in the application of its power in the case of Kalu.
He ruled: “The court proceeds to declare that the report of the Ad-hoc Senate Investigation Panel on allegations of Fraud and Breach of Regulations concerning the admission and graduation of the claimant [Kalu, Orji U. 00/42226-GDP] and the decision of the Senate of the Abia State University of 1st March, 2013, which cancelled and withdrew the degree result of the claimant [Kalu Orji U. 00/42226-GDP] without affording the claimant an opportunity to defend the grave allegations against him amounted to a breach of the claimant’s right to a fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 [as amended].
“Now, in consequence of the above declaration, the court issues an order removing into this court for the purpose of its being quashed, the proceedings, decisions, findings and or report of the Abia State University Ad-hoc Senate Investigation Panel on Allegations of Fraud and Breach of Regulations concerning the admission and graduation of the claimant, [Kalu, Orji U. 00/42226-GPD] for breach of the claimant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 [as amended].
“Finally, an order issues from this court mandating and/or directing the 2nd defendant to immediately restore the degree result and certificate of the claimant Kalu Orji, U. 00/42226/-GPD.”
The judge awarded a N100,000 cost against the defendants.