Student Jane Ihuoma Ottah who started her studies at Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) in 2014/15 was expelled from the university, after the institution discovered she had a disability. The student who has a partial hearing impairment. was struck off the university register with no advance warning or discussion.
The letter the university sent to Ms. Ottah by the university and signed by C.M Ewhorlu, Principal Assistant Registrar (Senate) read:
“I am directed to state that during your recent medical examination in the Health Services Department, it was observed that you are medically challenged and have hearing and speech difficulties…You are therefore advised to hand over all University property(ies) in your possession to your Head of Department and thereafter leave the campus.”
The student proceeded to suing the university for damages, initially for N20 million. At the hearing on 19th February, her counsel, Rotimi Oguneso, challenged the university on how it resorted to taking such measures and to explain where in Nigerian law is there any provision preventing persons with physical disabilities from pursuing their studies in any education of their choice up to the level they desire.
Both parties agreed to settle the matter out of court. Court Justice S. O. Iragunima adjourned for the parties to resolve the matter and then inform the court about the outcome at the next hearing due on the 21st of March 2016.
Speaking with journalists, Rotimi Oguneso condemned the actions of the university and the injustice imposed on the student insisting that the issue here was one of rights:
“Nigeria cannot be different, because the law recognises the right of everybody including disabled persons and persons with special need. There is always ability in disability”.
In the meantime Ms. Jane lamented the distress caused by the University but wishes to pursue her ambitions and getting back to her studies as early as possible without having to face discrimination or stigmatization.