Students' Rights as a Paradigm Shift In Nigeria's Tertiary Academic Institutions"- Zubair Bambale

The programme will be into (3) segments.
The guest talks about himself and the theme for 30minutes
Moderators ask some questions for 10minutes.
Others(members) ask questions for 20minutes.

Okay Gentlemen and ladies we have our presenter in the House ,a legal luminary and an astute academician. You are welcome Sir


The phrase “Paradigm Shift” was first used by Thomas Kuhn a philosopher of science in the 20th century, to oppose Karl Popper’s “Falsifiability” theory on what science is and what it is not as we all show science progress. According to Kuhn, contrary to Popper’s Falsifiability theory, science progresses when the totality of our understanding of things shifts.

I remain MUSA DANLADI,I shall be moderating the presentation to day together with my Brother Alhasan Quran mata. Thank you and we hope you will enjoy it.

A clear case is the way in which the earth was thought to have revolved around the sun only to be discovered subsequently that it is in fact the sun that revolves around the earth.

The phrase “Paradigm Shift” has how ever ,over the years ,assumed a wider scope beyond the context in which it was originally used. The phrase is now generally used to mean change in the way things are done in order to attain progress.

In this context his presentation adopts the phrase to argue for the re-affirmation of students rights in Nigeria's tertiary academic institutions of learning. The presentation submits that the doctrine of in Loco parent is where students are considered literally as children of school authorities with little or no right in the pursuit of knowledge ought to be laid to rest especially in the 21st century world where rights are taken to be of utmost importance. The presentation combines doctrinal and historical methods by deploying critical analysis as it stools.


The aim of any academic institution should be to provide an environment which promotes
Excellent research and scholarship. This is with a view to allowing students to learn, practice and implement high quality research. Academic institutions being a place of divers culture, religion and ideology appear to be a hub of beautiful conflicting energies and souls. The post graduate stage in academic pursuit is especially very crucial. This is because all though students at this stage are expected to be mature,they are law are of the rights they should be accorded with as students of higher institutions of learning. Consequently, they often attempt to test and assert these rights given that those rights are often denied by academic institutions.

It is against this back drop this paper argues that until students are allowed to enjoy certain rights that were hit her to denied by authorities of academic institutions the purpose for which postgraduate schools is meant to serve will continue to suffer great defeat . The presentation therefore, proposes that ensuring basic human right by postgraduate schools for the benefit postgraduate students as is obtained in other climes is another paradigm shift that will go a long way in effecting progress. The presentation is thus, not aware of other ways through which paradigm shift can be attained. For instance, University for the Future (U4F) model is a paradigm, which contends that in order to re invent higher education for the 21st century there ought to be transformative changes in all dimensions and in ways that aligned with each other. There is also another paradigm, which is the idea of increased private participation in postgraduate school administration. The position of the paper therefore, is without prejudice to these, among other paradigms.

For the purpose of this presentation, right is taken to me a human right that does not depend on national legal systems alone for protection but also on international law which international agencies can legitimately protect. The presentation is not to assuming that human rights are by any means exhaustive of rights the students have in the course of academic pursuit. Human rights are simply the most pronounced because they are written and documented. The constitution of Nigeria for example,is a living proof. Other rights such as right to conducive learning environment; right to decent accommodation( fort those lodging in the institutions hostels);right to clean water; functional sanitary facilities; recreation facilities abound and can even be subsumed under human right.

It is understood that students in most academic institutions are only offered probationary admission with conditions attached. Violation of these conditions
Attracts rescission of the said admission. However, students’ acceptance of the said probationary admission into institutions of learning does not take away the rights and privileges that the law provides for students.

These rights are vast and numerous. Rights to life; dignity of human person; personal liberty ;fair hearing; private and family life; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression and the press; freedom of peaceful assembly and association ;freedom of movement ;freedom from discrimination; the right against compulsory acquisition of property are substantive rights expressly found in the1999 Constitution of Nigeria and enjoyable by students .It is said that every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of status or position is entitled to these rights. Nothing takes away these rights including acqueisance to terms of admission into academic institutions or submission to scholarship and academic quests. This therefore, imply that Students in Nigeria, including postgraduate students of A.B.U. are entitled to the said rights, hence, the saying “Constitution should follow students to the campus”. The argument that no one sheds his constitutional rights when he enters the campus gates of universities nor does he acquire any special privilege is by this vindicated. Consequently the doctrine of In Loco Parentis according to which students in academic institutions lack basic rights as we shall see in the next section of this paper is now of no effect.


The sort of relationship that existed between academic institutions and Student learning prior to the1960s is what is referred to as In Loco Parent is .This is a kind of relationship in which academic Institutions acted, in a literal sense, as parents of students. This relationship-paved way for academic institutions to treat students just as parents can do their children .It meant students had little or no right over the academic institutions they attended. The structural bureau cratization of schools, the change of the age of majority or adult hood however, drove away the doctrine of In Loco Parentis. Before the eventual death of In Loco Parentis, the only option students had was either of conforming to school system of rights restrictions and privileges of institutional dominance and subordination nor be flushed out of the system. Rights of students could easily be infringed and sometime entirely denied. The era of the doctrine of In Loco Parentis ended when in1960,the case of DixonVs. University of Alabama Board of Education, here in after referred to as Dixon’s case was decided. The decision of that case brought to light so many rights that the students have over the institution.

In Nigeria, the major decision that re affirmed students ’right is Yusuf Garba Vs .University of Maiduguri, herein after, referred to as Garba’s case came more than a decade after Dixon’s case in the U.S. was decided. The gist of that case is as follows:

In reaction to their expulsion by the university authority, Students of the University of Maiduguri filed an action against the University. The university authority claimed to have expelled the students on the ground that the students staged among other things, riots and demonstrations resulting in the destruction of the university structures as well as assault on persons. The high court of justice of Borno State, Maiduguri Judicial Division being the court in which the students filed their action ruled as follows:

"A fundamental right for all is a legal right which the law protects and which can been forced in a court of law. These rights are not only protected but also guaranteed under the constitution. Since the rights are guaranteed under the constitution, government functionaries, be they (sic) legislative, executive, judicial cannot act in contravention of such rights and if the rights are to be taken away, it is the constitution itself which has to be amended.(see section 9 of the 1979 constitution). The applicants complained of the infringement of their fundamental rights off air hearing, it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that their fundamental rights have been in fact fractionalized and infringed.

Accordingly, it is here by declared that the expulsion of the applicant with effect from the 30th of March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constituted a violation of their fundamental rights to fair hearing. It is also declared that the applicant been admitted into the university of Maiduguri and treated like other students in the university of Maiduguri who were compelled to pay N160.00 for reparation of the properties damaged in the university during the students rampage.

Finally, it is also declared that the applicants cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights".


Of all the rights provided by the Nigerian constitution, the ones that mostly affect students are; Right to Fair Hearing, Right to Private and Family Life, Freedom of Expression (Right to Free Speech),Freedom of Assembly and Association. This is not assuming that other rights are less important or not at all.


Right to private and family life otherwise referred to as the right to privacy is one of those rights that students are often concerned with This right is provided by section 37 of the constitution of Nigeria,1999.It read as follows:

The right of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversation and telegraphic communication is hereby guaranteed and protected

Against this background, students do not lose their rights of being citizens by being students. Consequently, the right to privacy as being provided above also covers students. One of the rights to privacy that mostly affects students is that of search and seizure. Institutions or schools often infringe upon students’ right to privacy when they insert in their regulations, authority and right to enter students ‘hostels or dormitory for the purpose of conducting search. This is obviously a contravention of the right to privacy under section 37; students are by this right free from unreasonable search and seizures. This right is however, not without exception

As section 45 of the constitution of Nigeria provides that in the interest of defence, public safety, public morality, public health and public order as well as for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons, rights such as the right to privacy maybe dispensed with Thus, the right to privacy may not be available to students for instance if it becomes expedient and necessary for the academic institutions to conduct search and seizures even without warrant for the purpose of discharging their responsibility in providing for the health, safety and welfare of all on the campus.

It is pertinent to mention that over the years, the right to privacy has evolved and is still evolving even though; the right has always been traditionally construed, within the context of the protection of physical spaces and properties. However, technological progress recorded over the years, especially beginning from the 19th century to date has transformed the traditional conception of right to privacy. The progress is said to have, during the course of time impacted significantly on the private life of students as a result of which right to privacy had equally transformed to face the emerging challenges.


In Nigeria, freedom of expression is guaranteed under section, 39.The section provides as follows:
Every person shall been titled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information interference Sub-section 2 of section 39 provides as follows:

Without prejudice to the generality of sub section1of this section, every person shall been titled to own, establish and operate any medium for dissemination of information, ideas and opinion

Going by the provision of section 39, students are not exempted from enjoying the right to free speech as it said ‘every person’. Students in schools as well as out of school must be considered as persons under the constitution that possess fundamental rights which any person including school authorities must respect.

Freedom of expression or right to free speech is largely exercised through meetings, students’ publications as well as through the invitation of public lecturers. These rights are sometimes infringed by school authorities by putting curbs on discussion among students at meetings or at different forums. Ban on periodic publications or release of same if already published, ban on sales of publication, ban of stage performances that express students’ thoughts and sends messages etc. Are other ways through which students ’right to free speech may be infringed
Although students have the right to express themselves, such right must be exercised by adherence to certain ground rules. Students should therefore reconcile the time and place for holding or convening meetings with the university’s time table. Students should for example place their reservations or requests for approval to the university in advance. This is important in order to balance students ‘rights of speech with universities ’duty of maintaining conducive academic atmosphere for the benefit of students on campus.

Where for example, students intends to exercise their freedom to speech, through public speaking, especially in topics germane to the student’s purposes and for the purpose of expressing their thoughts, they should seek for universities’ permission where necessary so that conflict of calendar is avoided and suitable facilities for the speaker and audience are provided. Under the Nigerian constitution, freedom of expression is said to have been limited. Section 45 of the constitution provides that such freedom may be overridden in the interest of defence, public safety, public, morality, public order, public health and for protecting the right and freedom of others Are closely connected to the issue of freedom of expression as it relates to students is what can be termed as Academic Freedom. Academic Freedom entails the ability of students and academics in the university campus to express themselves in their fields of study or
Specialization and beyond. The ability for example of students to express his views on politics when gathered in classrooms, hostels or at the university restaurants except the said expression is capable of violating any law or falls within the exception of the general rules. In the U.S.these rights have faced serious threat especially after the terrorist attack of September 11,2001.Consequently,a number of academics as well as students have been singled out, detained or even fired/expelled for expressing their views having conservative foundations.
This is the practice in countries like India,China,Tunisia and Nigeria is not a likely exception. Students and academics in these countries are often banned from talking and expressing their opinions and in the U.S.Students as well as scholars, mainly of Islamic origin are said to be more greatly affected.


Closely related to students’ right to free speech or freedom of expression is freedom of association. This right ought to be firmly embedded in all democracies and their institutions such as the universities that form the bedrock of these democracies. Against this background, this right is guaranteed by various constitutions of countries with the aim of allowing individuals and by extension students of institutions of learning to come together, with the aim of pursuing, protecting and advancing their individual and collectively lawful interests.
This particular right is closely linked to the freedom of expression because it is mostly in the exercise of it that students enjoy their right to free speech and express their views on issues concerning their interests.

Freedom of assembly is provided for by the Nigerian constitution under section 40, which specifically calls it Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association. The section provides as follows:
Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interest.
By virtue of the provision of section 40 of the Nigerian constitution, students of the Nigerian institutes of learning, especially, universities are free to form a union of more than one person for the purposes of relating among themselves as well as between them and other stake holders in and outside the school walls. Stakeholders here are the university authorities, the political class, the press, corporate organizations, e.t.c. The purpose of forming these unions is among others, management of the affairs and interest of students, especially as it relates to their well-being on campuses, as well as effectively pursues academic interest with ease. It is through the exercise of the right to association and assembly that Nigerian students are Accorded the opportunity to interact with the university authorities to the extent that students’ interests are considered when policies are to be rolled. With this, a link is created between students and university authorities.

While exercising their rights under section 40,students get to go beyond the four walls of their class room engagements, their sense of reasoning thus, widened. Consequently, students union is one avenue through which students enjoy their rights to assembly and association. In Nigeria, these unions are complete institutions that run like a government where you get the students’ legislature, executive as well as the judiciary. Political roles are learned and practiced through an avenue.

It should be noted that the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly guaranteed under section 40 of the Nigerian constitution is not absolute. This is especially so with respect to students on university campuses. Thus students only can enjoy the right to demonstrate on campus, for instance, for the purpose of seeking redress so any other purpose, so far as they do not in any way disrupt the smooth operation of their institutions, interfere with the rights of other students and or staff. They can only enjoy the said right also in so far as they do not indulge in the destruction of properties. The right provided for under section 40 includes the right to converge at school building so far as other members of the school are not prevented from free movement.
I see time is not on my side .Let me quickly end it .


The right to fair hearing as a substantive human right, for example, is the single most important right. This can, without fear of contradiction, be termed the mother of all rights. It is the foundation on which other rights lean, it is upon this right, full exercise of, that a court or tribunal can pronounce a sustainable verdict or sanction on an erring student. The competent authorities take these substantive rights away after a successful “adjudication”and a successful adjudication is only based on fair hearing. Any sanction obtained without affording fair hearing to the student is susceptible to being set aside.Elements of right to fair hearing include right to know the rules; right to be notified (in writing) of any allegation of the breach of rules; right to respond, in writing and or make oral submission in defence of any allegation; right to appeal decisions of the school authorities. Right to fair hearing within the Nigerian constitution is apparently wide. This article will briefly talk about the part that is mostly related to students in university campuses. Section 36 of the Nigerian constitution provides for the right to fair hearing.

Thus: In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ,including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall been titled to a fair hearing within reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality In academic parlance, this right is often invoked during a proceeding involving us pension, expulsion, or any disciplinary measures ought to be meted out on the student by school authorities. The right to fair hearing is often referred to as due process of the law. Thus, due process of law is met when the principles of fair play are involved and when actions are reasonably just and not arbitrary. Students ’right to fair hearing was granted much prominence in the famous and celebrated Garba’s case.

The gist of Garba’s cases that students of the University of Maiduguri, of various disciplines were expelled. This is following a demonstratioaffirmationudents in the university and the expulsion was recommended by the investigative panel setup by the Vice Chancellor to probe the alleged students’ rampage. The expelled students, dissatisfied with the decision of the university, instituted an action at the High Court of Justice, Maiduguri Judicial Division, Borno-State, Nigeria ,which led to the appeal by the university to the court of appeal. The students dissatisfied with the court of appeal’s decision eventually appealed to the Supreme Court.

The action being for the enforcement of the students ’fundamental right under the Fundamental Rights(enforcement procedure)Rules,1979,among other things, sought from the court, a declaration that the expulsion of the students by the university constitutes a
Violation of the students ’fundamental right to fair hearing, that the students were admitted into the university, that the university acted with bias and that the student cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the students pointing out that whenever disciplinary powers are invoked, it puts the committee members in aquasi-judicial capacity and when in the instant case the vice chancellor delegated his powers to the disciplinary board, the board became a tribunal bound to observe all rules of natural justice.

But the board was not independent and some of its members not impartial as it were alleged that some of them were in fact victims of the alleged offences committed by the students that were expelled and that the students were prevented from cross examining witnesses who testified against them. Accordingly, the Supreme Court ordered that the expulsion of the students was a violation of their fundamental rights, that the expulsion was null and void and of no effect. The court also ruled that each student is entitled to right of fair hearing and cannot be deprived of that right by the authority and the court awarded cost against the university.


The aim of any postgraduate program is ideally, the development and maintenance of scholarship, research and creativity of the highest international standard. To achieve this aim the following objectives among others are set: broadening educational development and
Well-being of the students, fostering a culture of inquisitiveness, curiosity, creativity, critical Thinking, innovation, scholarship and research, and entrepreneurship in the students ‘environment.
All these can only be attained in an environment where the right and freedom of postgraduate students among others are guaranteed and ensured. An academic environment, where the freedom of expression and that of association for instance, when they are denied will barely allow the above stated aim and objective to be realized. It will be an academic environment in which public lectures, students gathering during meetings or at different forums. periodic students’ publications, stage performances that express students ’thoughts and sends messages are denied. It is also going to be an academic institution in which students are expelled on the basis of their colour, race, religion or ethnicity for expressing their views. All these are clearly against the globalized mission of the 21st century world. It is rather sad that some academic institutions, especially in Nigeria still deny students the basic human right that ought to have been ensured decades ago.
A recent incident in which such denial is recorded occurred in Kano State University of Technology (KUST). The school arbitrarily ordered all students to pay into the university’s account, monetary compensation because of a riot and rampage some students in that school allegedly staged. In addition the Student Union Government(SUG) which hither to served as an avenue through which the students ’right to assemble and associate freely was dissolved. Consequently as Karl Popper rightly argued that all of us including the scientists as well as institutions of learning should learn from our mistakes by realizing that progress occur when a particular way in the way we think about reality is discovered to be false and o obsolete. The attitude of infringing upon students right by Nigerian institutions of learning should be a thing of the past when the Loco Parent is era flourished.

ZubairB: Comrade, thanks for being with me all through this rather boring, yet lengthy presentation.

Barr Danladi: Now my question is how can we put into practice all your recommendation Sir?

A Y Babanyara: What are the forms and sources of conflict between Student Union Government and the varsity management in Nigeria tertiary institutions?

Barr Shamsu: The presenter Zubairu Bambale(PhD) is a consummate

Academician being groomed by number of professors, hence this apt presentation. We are

Yearning for more next time Sir.

ZubairB: Education is the key sir .As it is said in the presentation, this is used to happen to American students only in the 60s.But with increased knowledge of the right one has these excesses came to be the thing of the past. We all know here in Nigeria very few
Student are aware of their rights. Just take a look at how politics is rapidly changing in Nigeria, its all about increased voter education. There are many other ways i think.

A Y Babanyara: As part of Youth Party Executives at State level, we have student Governor, representing all the tertiary institutions within the state. What’s your advice in that regard?

Barr Danladi: I expect you to make reference to how the Students in Nigerian Law School have no right of whatsoever to protest ,and the same law school is the breeding ground of lawyers
( tell: +2347069067874)‬: This also applies to school of Health Technologies and Nursing. Schools
ZubairB: Universities are created either by an Act or by law of respective states. Forms of dispute are solution is always contained therein and there you find your source.
In A.B.U for instance, Deans of Students are first point of call all the way to the council and maybe the board. Then of course ultimately to our law courts where people like @ Bar Danladi find peace
ZubairB: Oh.thanks sir. You are absolutely right there you find one of the
Century .However, Law schools are mostly regarded as vocational institution in the narrow sense
Than postgraduate schools. I admit it goes in as a tertiary institution. Thanks for bringing this up.
ZubairB: They liaise with S.R.C officials and stand their ground whenever there

Is an infringement of Students right or it a likelihood. Be educated on these right and be sure to
Consult lawyers in this regard. Of course for a token By AYBabanyara




Musa Danladi ESQ and Alhassan Quran Mata

DATE:27th November,2018.
TIME: 9:00PM

Online Symposium