Mr Yesufu Amuda Garba and Ors v. The University of Maiduguri
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Nigerian Coat of Arms
In The Supreme Court of Nigeria
On Friday, the 14th day of February, 1986
Suit No: SC.24/1985
 
Before Their Lordships
 
ANDREWS OTUTU OBASEKI
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
KAYODE ESO
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
AUGUSTINE NNAMANI
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
MUHAMMADU LAWAL UWAIS
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
DAHUNSI OLUGBEMI COKER
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
SAIDU KAWU
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
CHUKWUDIFU AKUNNE OPUTA
....... Justice of the Supreme Court
 
 Between
Mr Yesufu Amuda Garba and Ors Appelants
 
 And
University of Maiduguri Respondents
 

OBASEKI, J.S.C(Presiding and Delivering the Lead Judgement). - The appellants were students in various disciplines in the University of Maiduguri, the respondent, before their expulsion from the said institution with effect from the 30th day of March, 1983. Their expulsion was sequel to the riotous behaviour of about 500 students in the University on the 2nd day of February, 1983 at about 9.00 p.m. followed by demonstration rampage, wanton destruction of properties in the University and assaults on persons. Their expulsion was not till after the Senate had considered the reports of the Disciplinary Board and Panels set up on the 9th day of February 1983 by the Vice-Chancellor to investigate the said students' rampage of the 2nd February 1983. The Senate noted that out of a total of four thousand students, only about five hundred students went to the residential area and only less than one hundred students took part in the destruction, arson and the looting. Senate also observed that from the pattern of arson and destruction, the intention of the perpetrators of the ghastly incident was far more sinister than the atrocities they were able to actually commit. It concluded that it was a carefully planned but hurriedly executed insurrection.

Following their expulsion, the appellants initiated in the High Court of Justice of Borno State of Nigeria, Maiduguri Judicial Division at Maduguri, the proceedings which led to the appeal by the respondent to the Court of Appeal and a further appeal by the appellants against the decision of the Court of Appeal to this Court. The proceedings initiated were for the enforcement of their fundamental rights and the procedure adopted was that laid down under and by the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 1979.

Following the grant of leave to apply for an order for enforcing and securing the enforcement of their fundamental rights, each of the appellants filed his statement setting out the reliefs sought as:

"(1) A declaration that the applicants' expulsion with effect from 30th march, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of his fundamental right to fair hearing;

(2) A declaration that the applicants be re-admitted into the University of Maiduguri to continue with their studies with immediate effect.

(3) A declaration that the respondent acted with bias in purporting to expel the applicants.

(4) A declaration that the applicants cannot be deprived of their fundamental rights."

The main ground on which the application was founded was that:

"the applicants were not given a fair hearing, before the respondent expelled the applicants from the University of Maiduguri with effect from 30th March, 1983."

Each of the applications was also supported by affidavit evidence. The respondent filed a counter-affidavit in reply.

There was no oral testimony taken by the learned trial judge and after hearing the submissions of counsel on both sides, the learned trial judge, Adagun, J. delivered his considered ruling granting all the reliefs. This is brought out vividly in the concluding paragraph of the Ruling of Adagun, J. which reads:

"In the totality of affidavit evidence adduced in this matter, I am convinced that the fundamental rights of the applicants entrenched under section 33(11) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 have been contravened by (sic) not affording them their right to cross-examine the witnesses who gave evidence against them before the investigation panel.

Secondly, the defences of alibi put up by the applicants in the affidavit were not properly investigated.

A fundamental right of all is a legal right which the law protects and which can be enforced in a court of law. These rights are not only protected but are also guaranteed under the Constitution. Since the rights are guaranteed under the Constitution, Government functionary 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 Nigerian Constitution). The applicants complained of the infringments of their fundamental rights of fair hearing, it has been proved before this court beyond reasonable doubt, that their fundamental rights have been in fact fractionalised and infringed.

Accordingly, it is hereby declared that the expulsion of the applicants with effect from the 30th March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights to fair hearing.

It is also declared that the applicants be re-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."

The University of Maiduguri was dissatisfied with the judgment and in the desire to obtain a reversal of the decision, it took the matter on appeal to the Court of Appeal on 8 grounds. The grounds were extensively argued before five Justices of the Court of Appeal (Nasir, P.; Akanbi, Agbaje, Ogundare and Abdullahi, JJ.C.A.) and in a considered judgment, the Court unanimously allowed the appeal. In the penultimate paragraph of his judgment with which the other four Justices concurred, Nasir, P. said:

"It is not surprising, therefore, that the only complaint in this case is failure to comply with the constitutional provisions of fair hearing. I entirely agree that this is always within the jurisdiction of the High Court particularly as section 42 of the Constitution has specifically so provided. The only question for consideration is what will be the court's direction or order after it has found that in the course of exercising a valid statutory function the adjudicating authority has infringed the principle of fair hearing. I have to some extent dealt with this already. I am in no doubt that the only valid order a High Court can make is to refer back the matter to the body authorised by law to deal with it with the necessary guidelines for such body to comply with the rules of natural justices which were formerly offended. In this case, I am of the opinion that the High Court was not seised with the jurisdiction to state who should not be expelled from or admitted to one University. The only issue before the High Court was whether there was fair hearing by the Disciplinary Investigation Board or whether there was likelihood of bias. To take over the jurisdiction of the Vice-Chancellor or of the University Council is, in my opinion, wrong. The students, including the respondents, must abide by the law establishing the University and any lawful conditions created in running the University. I am of the opinion that mere likelihood of bias will not be sufficient to disqualify the Vice Chancellor or his deputy when they are infact performing statutory functions. I am in fact satisfied that to establish bias in this case, one must look at all the surrounding circumstances of the case. In the light of the terms of reference of the Disciplinary Investigation Board and the consultations undertaken by the Vice-Chancellor and the fact that the respondents were given opportunity to present their side of the story, I am of the opinion that the learned trial judge was in error to hold that there was no fair hearing and that there was likelihood of bias.

..............To sum up, I am of the opinion that this appeal succeeds and the orders made by the learned trial judge including any order as to costs are hereby set aside."

The success of the appeal of the University of Maiduguri did not go well with the students - the plaintiffs/appellants herein. They decided to take the matter on appeal to this Court and accordingly filed their notice of appeal.

Three grounds of appeal were filed along with the notice of appeal and for the purposes of this judgment, it is desirable to set them out in detail. They read:

"1. The learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law in allowing the appeal after holding in the judgment of Mamman Nasir, J.C.A. (sic read p.)

'On the other hand each of the respondents had sworn in his affidavit that "the said period of rampage, I was in my room in the University campus", except the 5th who said he was in Haruna Abdul Rashidi's room on the campus and the 9th who said he was at the College of Arabic Studies with one Ibrahim M. Basir. On the University's side it was stated that each of the respondents took part in the disturbances. Each of the respondents also stated that he was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses and was not allowed to call witnesses. These allegations were also denied and it was sworn that each of the respondents were given opportunity of being heard and that none of the respondents requested to call any witness. In short, there were issues which were in conflict between the affidavits and court-affidavits.)'

PARTICULARS OF ERROR

(a) when there is any conflict in affidavit evidence on crucial issues to be determined, oral evidence must be adduced.

(b) The only valid order the Court of Appeal ought to have made was to have remitted the case back to the High Court for a rehearing on the crucial issues in conflict joined by the parties on their affidavit evidence, especially after expressing the opinion at page 30 that

' . . . . . . . the only valid order a High Court can make is to refer back the matter to the body authorised by law to deal with it with necessary guidelines for such body to comply with the rules of natural justice which were formerly offended.'

(c) The Court of Appeal ought not to have interfered with the findings of fact made by the trial Judge and substitute its own findings.

2. The learned Justices of the Court of Appeal misdirected themselves in law (Mamman Nasir, J.C.A. (sic) p.) in holding:

'To sum up, I am of the opinion that the learned trial judge was in error and have over-played the principle of fair-hearing and this had clouded his approach as a result of which he missed the issue involved. It was not the case of the respondents/applicants that they had a fundamental right to be students in the University. Their case was that they did not have a fair hearing. In my opinion, the only order open to the trial court was to make a declaration that there was a breach of the fundamental right of fair hearing and on the basis the trial court must quash the alleged hearing and order the appropriate authority to comply with the said fundamental right. Having quashed the said hearing, there is nothing left upon which the High Court order or declarations can be based.'

PARTICULARS OF ERROR

(a) The appellants claim in the High Court 'A Declaration that the applicants' expulsion with effect from the 30th of March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights to fair hearing.'

On the ground that the applicants were not given a fair hearing before the respondents expelled the applicants from the University of Maiduguri with effect from 30th March, 1983.

(b) The High Court by virtue of section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979, is given special jurisdiction and it enjoins any person who alleges that any of the provisions of Chapter 4 of the Constitution has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State to apply to the High Court for redress.

(c) By virtue of section 42(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979, the High Court is enjoined to make such orders "and" issue such writs, these therefore supplement, or are in addition to the existing remedies for securing the enforcement of fundamental rights.

(b) In granting a declaratory order as to the rights of the parties before it, the court can exercise the ancillary power which it has to grant consequential reliefs whether the consquential reliefs are claimed or not.

3. The learned Justices of the Court of Appeal erred in law per Mamman Nasir, J.S.C. (sic p.) in holding that:

'I am of the opinion that mere likelihood of bias will not be sufficient to disqualify the Vice-Chancellor or his Deputy when they are in fact performing statutory function. I am in fact satisfied that to establish bias in this case one must look at all the surrounding circumstances of the case. In the light of the terms of reference of the Disciplinary Investigation Board and the consultations undertaken by the Vice-Chancellor and the fact that the respondents were given opportunity to present their side of the story, I am of the opinion that the learned trial judge was in error to hold that there was no fair hearing and that there was likelihood of bias

PARTICULAR OF ERROR

(a) The defence of alibi put up by the applicants were neither considered nor investigated by the Investigating Panel set up by the respondent.

(b) The Chairman of the Investigating Panel and the vice Chancellor on the affidavit evidence where personal victims of the students rampage, hence, there was likelihood of bias.

(c) The appellants neither knew their accusers and were not given an opportunity of cross-examining them to test the veracity and accuracy of the evidence against them, when moreso before the Panel they pleaded alibi.

(d) The witnesses who testified against the appellants did so in their absence."

The respondents filed subsequently a notice of intention to contend that judgment should be affirmed on grounds other than those relied on by the Court of Appeal, i.e. the court below. The grounds on which the Respondent intended to rely on as contained in the said notice read:

"1. The High Court ought not to have entertained the plaintiff's action since the proper authority which ought to have adjudicated on their complaints was the Visitor to the University.

2. Since the power of the Vice-Chancellor to discipline the plaintiffs, though regulated by section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act, derived essentially from contract, the High Court ought not to have entertained a claim by the plaintiffs for a declaratory relief in the nature of an order of mandamus. In any event, it is irregular for the plaintiffs to have invoked the special jurisdiction conferred on the High Court under section 42 of the Constitution for the enforcement of what is no more than a contractual right.

3. The High Court fell into error of thinking that the provisions of section 33(1) of the Constitution apply to the exercise by the Vice Chancellor of his disciplinary powers under section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act when those provisions do not in fact apply. It is the provisions of subsection (2) of section 33 of the Constitution which apply."

Arising from the grounds of appeal, the issues for determination as set out in the brief of appellants are:

"1. whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in allowing the appeal and not remitting the case back to the High Court for a re-hearing after expressing the opinion that there were issues which were in conflict between the affidavits and counter affidavits of the appellants and the respondents

2. whether having regard to No.1 above the Court of Appeal was right in interfering with the findings of fact made by the trial judge and substituting its own findings thereof.

3. whether in view of the combined effect of the provisions of section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979, Order 24 Rule 1 of the Borno State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules and the appellants' claims at the lower court, the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal misdirected themselves in law when they held that the only order to open to the trial court was to make a declaration that there was a breach of the appellants' fundamental right to fair hearing and nothing more.

4. whether the Disciplinary Investigation Board had jurisdiction to look into the matters referred to it by the Vice-Chancellor in respect of the appellants.

5. whether in view of all the surrounding circumstances of the case there was fair hearing contrary to the findings of the trial judge."

The respondent in the brief filed by its counsel formulated only four issues for determination in this appeal. These four issues read:

"1. whether the High Court ought to have entertained the action;

2. whether the Court of Appeal ought to have remitted the case to the High Court for re-hearing;

3. whether it was right for the High Court to have granted reliefs which it granted to the appellants;

4. were the Disciplinary Investigation Board competent to perform the duties assigned to them?"

The important feature of this matter is that there was no oral hearing besides the address of counsel. All the evidence on which the learned trial judge acted was contained in the affidavit of each of the applicants and the counter-affidavit deposed to by Abubakar S. Chied. He, Abubaker S. Chide was the Principal Assistant Registrar (Students Affairs) in the University of Maiduguri and was a member and secretary of the Investigation Panel appointed by the Vice-Chancellor with the approval of the Senate to investigate the Student's rampage of 2nd February, 1983.

Each of the appellants deposed to an affidavit almost identical in terms except for a few paragraphs. Common to all the affidavits was the denial of any participation or involvement in the rampage and the fact that their expulsion was based on their involvement and their participation in the rampage and their being guilty of wilful destruction of property, arson, looting and assault in the University. Exhibit A issued by Mr Dahiru Bobbo the Registrar on the 30th day of March, 1983 clearly shows that the disciplinary action was taken against those who took part in the rampage. The statement at page 8 inter alia reads:

DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS ON STUDENTS

"Having regard to the provisions of section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979, Senate at its meeting of 28th - 29th March, 1983, was constituted into a Disciplinary Board to consider the report of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel that investigated the students' ramapage and advised the Vice-Chancellor to take appropriate disciplinary actions against those students who took part in the rampage of 2nd February, 1983. After a careful consideration of the role played by each student identified to have participated in the rampage, the Disciplinary Board of Senate advised the Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor decided to take action as follows:

(1) That the following students should be expelled from the University with immediate effect."

The names of all the 9 appellants appeared on that list of students expelled with immediate effect.

The statement Exhibit A giving detail of what the students did reads:

"At about 9.00 p.m. Mr. Zadok and a small group of his supporters who were fore-armed with inflammable materials such as petrol and matches, and dangerous weapons led a crowd of about 500 students to the residential area of the University, attacked the Vice Chancellor's lodge where they set fire to the Guest lodge, the main lodge and the mosque and burnt and destroyed six cars and a bicycle belonging to his five year old child. Many of the students who accompanied Mr. Zadok to the Vice-Chancellor's lodge ran back in panic when they saw the Vice-Chancellor's house set on fire. At the Registrar's house, the students burnt three cars, destroying another one. There was an attempt to set the house on fire. At the staff club, the demonstrating students looted 33 cartons of beer and some roast meat worth forty Naira.

At the residence of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Central Administration) there was an attempt to set the house on fire. The students broke into the house carrying away with them television sets, books, cooked and raw food, live chicken and destroyed children's lunch boxes and toys.

At the residence of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services), the demonstrating students burnt two cars, and destroyed window glasses. From the residential area, the demonstrating students proceed to the bookshop and they burnt the bookstore.

From the bookshop, the students broke into the Aisha Hall (the Female Hostel) where they manhandled some female students in their rooms and left many of them in utter disgrace and humiliation."

The counter-affidavit specifically denied the facts deposed to in paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 16 and 17 of the affidavits of the 8th and 9th appellants, Abdul Abubakar Aliyu and Mohammend Bapetrel Yahaya. There is no evidence that the other facts deposed to in the affidavit of the other appellants were ever challenged.

Paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 16 and 17 of the affidavit of the 8th appellant, Abdul Abubakar Aliyu reads:

"(1) That I am a part II Law student at the University of Maiduguri and one of the applicants in this suit;

(3) that at the said period of the rampage, I was in my room in the University campus.

(4) that I learnt of the said rampage and destruction of properties a few hours after the incident was brought under control;

(5) that I never participated in any demonstration, rampage, or wanton destruction of properties in the University on the said date and time nor at any other period;

(9) that I orally applied to the Panel to call my own witnesses to testify in support of my absence from the demonstrating students and innocence to the allegations levelled against me but the panel refused my applications without reasons;

(10) that the Panel did not investigate the claim of my alibi I put up before the Panel;

(16) that if the order of expulsion on me is not quashed, I might not benefit from further university education in my life;

(17) that great mischief and life hardship will result if the said order of expulsion is not quashed on the basis of a Disciplinary Investigating Panel which lacked the principles of "audi alteram partem" .

What facts did the counter-affidavit contain relevant to the incident? The answer to this question can best be provided by a reproduction of paragraphs 1 to 12 of the counter-affidavit which is all it contains. It reads:

"I Abubakar S. Chidi, Nigerian, Male, Moslem of the Students Affairs Department, University of Maiduguri do hereby make oath and say as follows:

1. That I am a Principal Assistant Registrar (Students Affairs) in the University of Maiduguri.

2. That I was a member of and Secretary of the Investigation Panel that was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor with the approval of the Senate to investigate the student rampage of 2nd February, 1983 which led to the closure of the University of Maiduguri from

3rd February -10th April, 1983.

3. That from my membership of and position in the Investigation Panel, I know the applicants in this case and I am familiar with the facts of this case.

4. That I have the authority of my employers to despose to this counter-affidavit;

5. That I have seen the affidavit of both applicants in this suit, i.e. Abdul Aliyu and Mohammend Bapetrel Yahaya and also the statements annexed to the notice of motion and I am aware that the averments in both are not true.

6. That paragraphs, 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the affidavit of the 1st applicant are not true because the applicant who until his expulsion from the University was the Secretary-General of the University of Maiduguri Students Union was one of those who summoned the congress on the fateful day and it was from the congress that the students proceeded to destroy both the university property and property belonging to some staff of the university and also threatened the safety and security of the university community.

7. That in the same vein the averments contained in paragraph 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the affidavit of Mohammed Bapetrel Yahaya are not true as the student had been expelled from the University after the Investigation Panel had so recommended to the Vice-Chancellor as per page 9 of Exhibit A annexed to the applicant's affidavit.

8. That the contents of paragraphs 9 and 10 of the applicant affidavit are not true as the panel gave the applicants opportunity of being heard and the applicants did not at any time request to recall any witness or witnesses. Further, the Panel was not set to try any particular person but to find out the remote and immediate causes of the wanton destruction of property by the students and recommend appropriate disciplinary measures:

9. That after the violent and wanton destruction of property at the University on 2/2/83, the Investigation Panel was set up by the Vice Chancellor with the approval of the Senate with the following terms of reference.

(a) To investigate the remote and immediate causes of the recent grave students disturbances on the night of Wednesday, the 2nd of February, 1983 in the University campus;

(b) To identify the principal organisers and perpetrators of the disturbances and in particular to investigate the activities of the executive members of the Students Union before, during and after the disturbances;

(c) To identify all those who in anyway at all participated in the disturbances;

(d) To determine the role of persons or organisations inside or outside the University, of Maiduguri, in influencing, planning, organising or executing the disturbances and what factors might have motivated such interests;

(e) To assess and report on the extent of damage inflicted upon public and private property and to give competent costing of such damages and losses using the services of appropriate appointed University professional (sic);

(f) To examine the performance and effectiveness of security information and communication system in anticipating, monitoring and apprehending the disturbances as well as reducing dangers to those involved and minimising the damage caused;

(g) To comment on the role of law enforcement agencies in controlling the disturbances;

(h) To apportion blame or give credit as the case may be to all individuals concerned and in the former case to recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits;

(i) To recommend measures to be taken by the University to forestall any such disturbances and to make such other recommendations as the committee may consider fit.

10. That paragraphs 16 and 17 of the applicant's affidavits are not true because the applicants can still apply for and gain admission into other universities in the country. Further, the applicants failed to avail themselves the opportunity of appealing against the decision to expel them to the University Council as provided by law.

11. That to the best of my knowledge and belief, although the panel was not and could not be a court of law or police investigating body, the procedures adopted by the panel in carrying out the investigations aimed at justice and fairplay and the panel strictly acted within the frame of its terms of reference.

12. That I swear to this affidavit in good faith."

The grounds on which the application for the reliefs were based are:

(1) The applicant was not given a fair hearing before the respondent expelled the applicant from the University of Maiduguri with effect from 30th March, 1983:

PARTICULARS

(a) All the allegations levelled against the applicants through witnesses were received by the respondent in the absence of the applicants

(b) The applicant was not given the opportunity of seeing or cross-examining any of the witnesses who so testified before the Investigation panel set up by the respondent against the applicants.

(2) The alleged rampage and wanton destruction of property levelled against the applicant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt against the applicants as required by law before the respondent expelled the applicants from the University.

(3) The defence of alibi put up by the applicants was not considered or investigated by the Investigation Panel set up by the respondent.

(4) Both the Investigating Panel and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri were biased against the applicant in finding the applicant guilty of mis-conduct.

PARTICULARS

(a) The Chairman of the Investigating Panel Dr. Nuhr Alkali and the Vice-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri were personally victims of same students' rampage and wanton destruction of properties at the University of Maiduguri campus at the material time. It is clear from the affidavit and counter-affidavit and it is indeed common ground that the appellants were students at the University, that they were expelled on the 30th day of March, 1983 that they were found guilty of mis-conduct which has been vividly described in Exhibit A and amounting to arson, willful destruction of property, stealing and indecent assault.

If the Investigating Panel was not set up to try any particular person as deposed to in paragraph 8 of the counter-affidavit I cannot but wonder by what process the Investigating Panel found the appellants guilty of the acts complained of above. However, it does appear to me that by the terms of reference set out in paragraph 9 of the counter affidavit particularly sub-paragraphs (b), (c), (d) and (h) of paragraph 9 that the Panel was empowered to try those identified as having participated in the disturbance for it is only by this process that (i) the Panel can identify the principal organisers and perpetrators of the disturbance, (ii) identify all those who in any way participated in the disturbance (iii) determine the role of persons in influencing, planning organising or executing the disturbances and (iv) apportion blame and recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits.

The use of the term culprits implies a finding of guilt and any finding of guilt without a trial is a breach of all the rules of natural justice. The Investigating panel is therefore turned into prosecutor, witness and judge. I will leave the facts of the case there for now.

Turning to the issues for determination set out above, learned counsel, Chief Gani-Fawehinmi for the appellants and Chief F.R.A. Williams submissions in their briefs or argument filed. Both counsel were forth-coming in making concession on points of law where the occasion called for it and such assistance from counsel is highly commended as it lightens our path in the search for justice and enables the desirable holy development of the law. Learned counsel for the appellant identified four issues for determination. These four issues, he submitted were:

(1) whether the High Court was competent to entertain the action;

(2) whether in the exercise of the powers conferred by section 17(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979 the Vice-Chancellor and his appointees ought to have applied the rules of natural justice;

(3) whether the appellants established a breach of section 33(1) of the 1979 Constitution; and

(4) whether the trial court was competent to grant the relief which it granted.

Learned counsel then referred the Court to the facts deposed to in the affidavit and counter-affidavit and Exhibit A and submitted that the appellants were expelled because of alleged criminal actions amounting to (1) wilful destruction of property; (2) arson (3) looting and (4) assaults. These he submitted, are offences under the Criminal Code and Northern Penal Code. He submitted that criminal matters do not come within visitorial jurisdiction or that the visitor has no visitorial jurisdiction over them. Learned counsel then cited in support:

The King and Queen v. St. Johns College Cambridge 4 MOD 233 Adeyinka Albert Laoye v. The State S. C. 200/1984 delivered 25/10/85 (1985) 2 N. W.L.R. (parts 10) p. 382 ;Sofekun v. Akinyemi & Ors. (1981) 1 N.C.N.L.R. 135 at 137 (1890) 5 S.C.; Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) 1 All N.L.R. 306

Learned counsel then contended that the misconduct envisaged in section 17(1) University of Maiduguri Act 1979 does not include criminal misconduct. He then submitted that where the misconduct amounts to a crime against the state it must be referred to a Court for hearing and determination.

On the issue of the competence of the High Court, learned counsel submitted that once a matter involves a breach of fundamental rights and the aggrieved invokes section 42 of the Constitution, the High Court in the state is invested with jurisdiction. He cited the case of Peenock v. Hotel Presidential (1982) 12 S.C. 1. He concluded that the civil rights and obligations of the appellants in relation to their conduct as members of the University of Maiduguri were called in for questioning and determination by the University.

On the 2nd issue, learned counsel contended that since the investigation Panel had to identify persons who participated and apportion blame, it is bound to observe the rules of natural justice. He emphasised that the rules must be complied with whether the Panel is acting judicially, quasi-judicially or administratively and cited in support;

Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Gani Fawehinmi (1985) 2 N. W. L. R. 300 at 307

Glynn v. Keele University (1971) 2 All E.R. 89 at 95 and 96

Kanda v. Government of the Federation of Malaya (1962) A. C. 322 at 337

State Civil Service Commission & Drs. v. Buzugbe (1984) 7 S. C. 19

A.I. Wilson v. Attorney-General, Bendel State (1985) 1 N. W.L.R. (Part4) 572

On issue No.3, learned counsel submitted that the Disciplinary Board did not call on the appellants at the time the report of the Investigating Panel was being considered. Counsel conceded that they appeared before the Investigating Panel but no charges were preferred against them although there was a general allegation. Learned counsel then pointed out that in view of the damage to the Chairman's property, there was likelihood of bias and referred to the case of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Gani Fawehinmi (supra). There was therefore a breach of section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution.

Chief F.R.A. Williams, S.A.N., approached the questions from a different angle. He cautioned against reading too much into section 33 and submitted that the common law incorporating the rules of natural justice is part of the law in Nigeria and pointed out that there are many situations in which the court, forgetting section 33 of the Constitution will apply the rules of natural justice. He emphasised that section 33 is there to delimit the powers of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. He then conceded that the Investigating Panel was bound to hear all the parties concerned, i.e. it must comply with the rules of natural justice. He however, pointed out that the student is bound to the University on matriculation by contract and acquires a status as a member of the University community. He contended that one of the built-in authority in university is the Visitor and that the courts have always recognised the authority of the Visitor in matters of discipline. He then submitted that disciplinary measures against the student who has matriculated is an internal matter. Learned counsel was quick to concede that whether or not a student is guilty of a crime is not an internal affair of the university. He however contended quite rightly, that whether he should continue to retain his status or be suspended or dismissed is an internal affair of the university. But in such matters, the obligation to observe the rules of natural justice and the provisions of section 33(1) exists. The Vice-Chancellor cannot just wake up one morning and say to a matriculated student "I dismiss you" without cause. Counsel submitted, and I agree with him, that even where a student has been adjudged by a court "not guilty of the offence charged", the university, acting by due process, can satisfy itself of the commission of a misconduct which attracts even the severest of the disciplinary measures. The need for the University to establish the guilt of the student before imposing appropriate disciplinary measures cannot be over-emphasised. Learned counsel contended that as a general rule, when dealing with status of a person as a member of a university, it became an internal matter and referred to the case of Thomas v University of Bradford (1985) 3 W.L.R. 248. London Times, November 4, 1985.

Learned counsel rejected Olaniyan's case as irrelevant and of no assistance in the present proceedings. Learned counsel submitted that the appellants cannot properly bring an action for the enforcement of a right based on section 33 because they are not dealing with fundamental right under section 33 of the Constitution. He pointed out that the remedy provided by the Orders of cetiorari and prohibition have not been taken away and are more appropriate in the circumstances. He submitted that nobody has infringed the right of the appellants under section 33(1). Learned counsel then referred to and cited the following cases:

U.S. V. Stanlay 27 L Ed. 835 at 841 2nd column; Gobala v. The State (1950) A.I.R. 27 at 93 2nd column ; Shamdasani v. Central Bank in India (1950) A.I.R. (S) 59

In reply, learned counsel for appellants, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, referred to section 2(1) Uiversity of Maiduguri Act 1979 and submitted that the status of the appellants in the university is statutory but not contractual. They are members of the university by virtue of section 2(1)(i) of the Act.

In conclusion, he submitted that section 33 of the 1979 Constitution incorporates all the elements of natural justice and cited Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Gani Fawehinmi (supra) (1985) 2N. W.L.R. 300, 305.

Turning to the submissions of counsel set out in their brief of arguments on the various issues raised in the grounds filed by the parties and set out above, Chief Gani Fawehinmin dealing with issue No.1 (that concerning the proper order to make where there is conflict in affidavit evidence), submitted that the Court of Appeal should have exercised its general powers under section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act 1976 and call for oral evidence on its own motion or remitted the case to the High Court for re-hearing in order that the conflicts may be resolved through oral evidence. He then referred to the dictum of Onyeama, J.S.C. in Akinsete v. Akindutire (1966) 1 All N.L.R. 147 at 148 and the case of Government of Ashanti v. Adjuah Korjortee 4 W.A. C.A 83 upholding the judgment of Bannerman, J. He also cited:

(1) the dictum of Sir Udo Udoma, J.S.C. in Chief Uku & 4 Ors. v D.E. Okumagba (1974) 3 S.C. 35 at 64-65

(2) the dictum of Irikefe J.S.C. (as he then was) in Eboh v. Oki (1974) 1 S. C. 179 at 189-190

(3) the dictum of Fatayi-Williams, J.S.C. (as he then was) in Olu Ibukun & Anor. v. Olu Ibukun & Anor. (1974) 2 S. C. 41 at 47-48

(4) the dictum of Fatayi-Williams, J.S.C. (as he then was) in Folbi v. Falobi (1976) 9 & 10 S. C. at 14-15

(5) the dictum of Nnamani, J.S.C. in The State v. Salihu Mohammed Gwonto & 4 Others (1983) 3 S. C. 62 at 108-109

Learned counsel observed that without resolving the conflict the Court of Appeal also used the facts in the affidavit to found its decision to allow the appeal. Having regard to the complaint and the acceptance in the counter-affidavit filed by the respondent that the Investigation Panel was not a court or police body and that the Investigating Panel was not empowered to try the appellants taken along with the acceptance of the contents of Exhibit A a document exhibited along with the affidavits of the appellants the area of conflict is severely narrowed down and pale into significance to warrant, in my view, an order of retrial. This does not whittle down the necessity for any judge seised of the matter in which affidavit evidence is in serious conflict to revolve the conflict by taking and hearing oral evidence from the parties on the issue.

Learned counsel then submitted that it was wrong of the Court of Appeal to have reversed the decision of the High Court which largely hinged upon the unimpeached findings of fact made by the High Court. He contended that it is not the function of an appellate court to disturb findings of fact made by the court of trial. I agree with learned counsel's submission only to the extent that the findings were justified by the evidence and all the circumstances of the trial were not perverse and the findings flowed from the evidence the learned trial judge having utilised to advantage the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses testify. Most of the cases decided in the last 20 years in this Court are replete with high judicial pronouncements to this effect. I will refer to only a few of these cases. They are:

Chief Victor Woluchem & Ors. v. Chief simon Gudi & Ors. (1981) 5 S.C. 291

Chief Frank Ebba v. ChiefOgodo & Anor. (1984) 1 S.C. N.L.R.372, 378

George Okafor & Ors. v. Eze. A.E. Idigo III & Ors. (1984) 1 S. C.N.L.R. 481 at 499.

On issue No.3, learned counsel for the appellants submitted that even if the applicants did not specifically ask for a declaration that they be readmitted into the University to continue with their studies with immediate effect, the High Court was right in granting it. He pointed out, and I agree with him, that the High Court has power to grant consequential orders. He then cited in support:

(1) Okupe v. Federal Board of Inland Revenue (1974) 1 All N.L.R.314, 330

(2) Laibru Ltd. v. Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (1962) 1 All N.L.R. 387

(3) Order 34 Rule 1 of the Borno State High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 1979

On issue No.4, learned counsel submitted that under section 33(1), (4) and (13) only a court of law or a judicial tribunal is competent to hear and determine a criminal charge against the appellants. I agree that neither the Investigating Panel, the Disciplinary Board nor the Vice Chancellor has any competence in law so to do.

Assault is an offence under section 265 of the Penal Code. Stealing or theft is an offence under sections 287 and 288 of the Penal Code. Robbery is an offence under section 298 of the Penal Code. House Trespass is an offence under section 352 of the Penal Code. Arson or mischief by fire is an offence under section 337 of the Penal Code. These are all serious offences, which carry heavy punishment under the Penal Code. Any person found guilty of any of them will have his reputation and name tarnished and stigmatised for life. It is therefore clear why the right to fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal is given to any person charged.

It is appropriate at this juncture to refer to the provisions of section 33(1) and (4). They are:

"(1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.

(2) Whether a person is charged with a criminal offence he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal. "

(2) the dictum of Irikefe J.S.C. (as he then was) in Eboh v. Oki (1974) 1 S.C. 179 at 189-190

(3) the dictum of Fatayi-Williams, J.S.C. (as he then was) in Olu Ibukun & Anor. v. Olu Ibukun & Anor. (1974) 2 S.C. 41 at 47-48

(4) the dictum of Fatayi-Williams, J.S.C. (as he then was) in Folbi v. Falobi (1976) 9 & 10 S.C. at 14-15

(5) the dictum of Nnamani, J .S.C. in The State ve. Salihu Mohammed Gwonto & 4 Others (1983) 3 S.C. 62at 108-109

Learned counsel observed that without resolving the conflict the Court of Appeal also used the facts in the affidavit to found its decision to allow the appeal. Having regard to the complaint and the acceptance in the counter-affidavit filed by the respondent that the Investigation Panel was not a court or police body and that the Investigating Panel was not empowered to try the appellants taken along with the acceptance of the contents of Exhibit A a document exhibited along with the affidavits of the appellants the area of conflict is severely narrowed down and pale into significance to warrant, in my view, an order of retrial. This does not whittle down the necessity for any judge seised of the matter in which affidavit evidence is in serious conflict to revolve the conflict by taking and hearing oral evidence from the parties on the issue.

Learned counsel then submitted that it was wrong of the Court of Appeal to have reversed the decision of the High Court which largely hinged upon the unimpeached findings of fact made by the High Court. He contended that it is not the function of an appellate court to disturb findings of fact made by the court of trial. I agree with learned counsel's submission only to the extent that the findings were justified by the evidence and all the circumstances of the trial were not perverse and the findings flowed from the evidence the learned trial judge having utilised to advantage the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses testify. Most of the cases decided in the last 20 years in this Court are replete with high judicial pronouncements to this effect. I will refer to only a few of these cases. They are:

Chief Victor Woluchem & Ors. v. Chief simon Gudi & Ors. (1981) 5 S.C. 291

Chief Frank Ebba v. ChiefOgodo & Anor. (1984) 1 S.C. N.L.R. 372,378

George Okafor & Ors. v. Eze. A.E. Idigo III & Ors. (1984) 1 S.C. N.L.R. 481 at 499.

Learned counsel then submitted that the Disciplinary Board was an administrative tribunal and could only exercise the powers exercisable by the Vice-Chancellor under section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act. Since the actions taken by the Disciplinary Board are in excess of the powers of the Vice-Chancellor, they are unconstitutional. The Disciplinary Board is certainly not a court or tribunal established by law within the contemplation of section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution. Since it accepted the reports of the Investigating Panel which investigated the offences and apportioned blame to the applicants for offences under the Penal Code, all its actions in that respect are, in my view, null and void. Learned counsel cited and I would refer to

(1) Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) 1 All N.L.R. 306

(2) Dr. Sofekun v. Chief Akinyemi (1980) 5-7 S.C.1 at 18-19

It should be observed and noted that students in all our universities and institutions of higher learning are not above the law of the land and where obvious cases of breaches of our criminal and penal laws have taken place, the authorities of the university are not empowered to treat the matter as an internal affair. Both the students and the authorities of the universities owe the nation a duty to observe the laws of the land and avoid injustice to anyone. Without subjecting any criminal allegation against any student to the machinery provided by the state for ascertaining the truth of the allegation, a very painful denial of fundamental right is inflicted on the students howbeit laudable or sympathetic the intention of the authorities might be. Mistakes do occur. An innocent student might in such circumstance suffer undeserved punishment. A guilty student might prefer the less austere climate of the Vice-Chancellor's Investigating Panel's room and pronouncement of the Disciplinary Board or Vice-Chancellor but the pronouncement of guilt from the current of unsifted, untested and undistilled mass of evidence which did not pass through well informed professional minds will do more harm than good to the integrity of the student. Ours is not a perfect society but our imperfections can be eradicated by our observance of the rule of law. Our human resources are our greatest asset and unless we use them to advantage, the Nigerian nation will be the loser. We cannot afford to lag behind while other nations march forward and enjoy the full benefit of their developed human resources.

A university student is a priceless asset and as he is on the threshold of useful service to the nation, we cannot afford to destroy him by stigmatising him with offences unless proved guilty before a court.

In Denloye v. Medical and Dental Disciplinary Committee (supra) the Supreme Court held at page 312 that

"In view of all these, we have come to the conclusion that the tribunal was wrong to have proceeded to try offences punishable under the Criminal Code and the proceedings in this respect are null and void."

Earlier on in the same page, the Court said:

"In effect, where the unprofessional conduct of a practitioner amounts to a crime it is a matter for the courts to deal with and once the court has found a practitioner guilty of an offence, if it comes within the type of cases referred to in section 3(1)(b), then the tribunal may proceed to deal with him under the Act."

The case of Dr. O.G. Sofekun v. Chief N.O.A. Akinyemi and 3 Ors. (1980) 5-7 S.C. 1 cited by learned counsel for the appellants is very relevant to the consideration of the issues in the instant appeal. Therein section 22(2) of the 1963 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria almost in pari materia with section 33(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic 1979 was considered. It does, in my view, provide solid support for the contention of the appellants. The claim before the court in that case was for:

"a declaration that the purported dismissal of the plaintiff as senior consultant (Opthalmology) from the service of the Western State is invalid, illegal, ultra vires, null and void and of no effect."

Fatayi-Williams C.J.N. (as he then was) delivering the lead judgment concurred in by the other justices, said at page 15

"The argument of Mr Kehinde Sofola, S.A.N., who appeared for the plaintiff/appellant, in support of the grounds of appeal was based on the crucial question-

'Are the amendments to the Regulations by Western State Legal Notice No. 68 of 1972 valide and constitutional?,

In this connection, learned counsel pointed out that the effect of the purported amendment to regulations 41, 44, 45 and 50 of the Regulations is to provide that even where a criminal offence is disclosed, the commission can proceed to investigate the alleged offence committed by one of the States' public officer without waiting for the court's decision on the issue of criminal culpability and may even still proceed to disciplinary action in spite of an acquittal by the court. The purported effect of the amendment learned counsel contend, is to usurp the function of the court as laid down in section 22(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1963 (the applicable) and to deny any public officer accused of a crime of the protection offered by section 22 subsections (4) and (9)"

and at page 19, the learned Chief Justice said:

"The jurisdiction and authority of the courts of this country cannot be usurped by either the Executive or the Legislative branch of the Federal or State Government under any guise or pretext whatsoever. That being the case, the amendment made to the Regulations in 1972, the effect of which is to make it unnecessary to take a public officer in the State's public service who has been accused of a criminal offence to a "court of law," and in effect, to dispense with the due process of law is clearly ultra vires the provision of section 22 subsection (2) of the Constitution and is therefore, invalid. So also the trial of the plaintiffs/appellant held thereunder by the Investigating Panel and his consequential dismissal."

The courts under the 1963 Constitution were not expressly vested with judicial powers.

The position is even stronger under the 1979 Constitution which has by section 6 vested judicial powers expressly in the courts of law. See section 6(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979.

On issue No.5, learned counsel submitted that nowhere in the judgment of the Court of Appeal was the finding of the learned trial judge that the claim of alibi of the appellants was not properly investigated ever impeached. Learned counsel emphasised the requirement of the law that a defence of alibi ought to be investigated by Investigating Panel. He cited Akile Gachi & Ors v. The State (1965) N.M.L.R. 33; Christian Nwosisi v. The State (1976) 6 S.C. 109; and Yanor & Annor. v. The State (1965) N.M.L.R. 337. This is one of the areas where the affidavit and counter-affidavit evidence are in conflict. In any case, the issue does not acquire any importance having regard to the disclaimer in the counter-affidavit that any person was put on trial despite the terms of reference.

On the issue of likelihood of bias, learned counsel submitted that the fact that the Chairman of the Investigating Panel who was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and a victim of the rampage raises or leads to a real likelihood of bias in his consideration of the appellant's case. He maintained that the fact that he was a victim of the rampage was never denied. Learned counsel then cited in support:

(1) Gani Fawehinmi v. Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 719

(2) Salawu Oyelade v. Sanusi Araye & Anor. (1968) N.M.L.R. 41

(3) In Re Dr. M. O. Alakija v. The Medical Disciplinary Committee (1959) IV F.S.C. 38

(4) Obadara & Ors. v. The President, Ibadan West District Council Grade 'B' Customary Court, IDDO. (1985) N.M.L.R. 39

This submission is incontestible. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor cannot be a witness and a judge all at the same time. The likelihood of bias is a necessary inference from the assumption of the two positions.

Chief Williams, S.A.N. learned counsel for the respondent, dealt in his brief with the issue of jurisdiction in detail. He opined that the argument that the High Court ought not to have entertained the action is based on the fact that essentially the relationship between the University and every student based on contract though no doubt it is also regulated by the University of Maiduguri Act 1979 No. 18. He submitted that it is part of the terms of the contract (as regulated by statute) that dispute of a domestic nature shall be referred to and determined by the Visitor appointed for the University. Accordingly, submitted he, at common law, the court will hold the students to be bound by their contract and will insist that they take their dispute to the Visitor and not the court. He cited the case of Dunlop v. Selfridges (1955) A.C. adopting the views of Sir Frederick Pollock. He also referred to the Notes by Professor H.W.R. Wade in 85 L.Q.R. 46 capitoned "Judicial Control of Universities" and later in 90 L.Q.R. 157158 quoting Lord Devlin's Report on the sit-in strike of students at Cambridge University which, inter alia, reads "Contract is the foundation of most domestic or internal systems of discipline. The power to discipline should be inferred from the acceptance of it in the contract of matriculation". He referred to Wad, Administrative Law 5th Edition pp. 502-503 and Herring v. Templeman (1973) 3 All E.R. 569 at 585. Learned counsel then cited.

(1) Akintemi & Ors. v. Professor Onwumechili and Anor (1985) 1 N. W.L.R. 68

(2) Patel v. University of Bradford Senate (1978) 1 W.L.R. 1488per Sir Robert Megarry V. C.

(3) University of Lagos v. Dada (1971) 1 U.I. L.R. 344

(4) University of Ibadan v. Asein C.A./1/63/84 delivered 22/5/85

He also referred to the article captioned "keeping peace in the Universities: The Role of the Visitor's by J. W. Bridge Vol. 86 The Law Quarterly Review pages 531-551.

Learned counsel then submitted that in the light of the above, the High Court ought not to have exercised jurisdiction in this matter and the appellants' action ought to have been struck out for want of jurisdiction.

Before dealing with the historical origin and role of the Visitor in our universities in general and the University of Maiduguri in particular later on in this judgment, it is well to remember and bear in mind that the offices are creations of the various founding statutes promulgated by the various legislatures and cannot have more powers than those given and set out in the statutes. Learned counsel went on to deal with the conflicts in the evidence provided by affidavits and counter affidavit. Learned counsel conceded that if the sole basis of the decision of the Court of Appeal had been that the trial judge determined the facts in issue on conflicting affidavit evidence alone, the contention of the appellants' counsel that the Court of Appeal had been that the trial judge determined the facts in issue on conflicting affidavit evidence alone, the contention of the appellants' counsel that the Court of Appeal ought to have remitted the case to the trial court - High Court - so that necessary oral evidence can be taken to resolve the conflict would have been well founded. Learned counsel then submitted that the Court of Appeal had other grounds on which it based its decision. He contended that the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the High Court was not competent to have made the orders relating to the expulsion of the appellants from the university and directing that the university re-admit them.

He submitted that mandamus or declaratory orders cannot be used to enforce rights based on contract and cited Wade: Administrative Law 5th ed. page 634-636 and the cases of

Regina v. Post Office ex Parte Byrnes (1975) 1 C.R. 221

R. v. B.B.C. Ex Parte Lavelle (1983) 1 W.L.R. 23

A body set up by statute and vested with statutory functions is not amenable to the remedy of mandamus or certiorari in respect of rights and duties under the contract. He submitted that fundamental rights protected under section 33 of the Constitution are limitations of legislative, executive or judicial powers. He then contended that they are rights against the abuse of governmental powers and cannot be invoked in aid of contractual rights or duties.

On the competence of the Disciplinary Investigating Board, learned counsel conceded that the Board does not claim for itself power to try anyone for crime but contended that the members of the Board like every other person are entitled under section 36(1) of the Constitution to "freedom to hold opinion and to receive...... ideas and information without interference". Learned counsel emphasised that it was that right that the Board exercised when investigating matters assigned to them. They were not trying anyone for crime; he emphasised.

That submission is quite a substantial concession. If they, (the appellants) were not tried where does the appearance of guilt come from? That, to my mind, is the big question.

Learned counsel then concluded his submission by stating that:

"Whilst the provisions of section 33(2) of the Constitution may possibly apply to the regulation of the powers of the Vice-Chancellor under section 17 of the Act, those of section 33(1) cannot possibly apply to him. The question of bias is thus irrelevant in the context of the exercise of the statutory powers concerned. There is nothing more calculated to frustrate the smooth administration of the law than to suppose that the provisions of section 33(1) must be applied at every stage of an administrative process. It is enough if, in the entire statutory context, and at the end of the day, it is permissible for a person affected by an administrative order (sic) is (to be) entitled to

'a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal."

In support of his contention, he finally cited the case of Falomo v. Lagos State Public Service Commission (1977) 5 S. C. 51

The submissions of both counsel in this matter, formidable as they are, in the main, revolve round the true construction of

(1) The constitutional provision in section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979); and (2) Section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979.

The historical origin and powers of the Visitor in a University in England and elsewhere, instructive as they are, can only be of assistance if the historical powers have been incorporated into the University of Maiduguri Act and are not in conflict with the Act and the Constitution. If they are in conflict with the Constitution, their exercise is totally void and of no effect. What are the provisions of subsections (1) and (4) of section 33 of the Constitution?

I have referred to them earlier on in this judgment but their repetition here will better focus our attention on the issues being discussed. They read.

"33(1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.

(4) Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence, he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal. "

It is also necessary to set out in full the provisions of section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act. It contains 6 subsections and they read:

"17(1) Subject to the provisions of this subsection, where it appears to the vice-Chancellor that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct, the Vice-Chancellor may without prejudice to any other disciplinary powers conferred on him by statute or regulations, direct

(a) that the student shall not, during such period as may be specified in the direction participate in such activities of the University, or make use of such activities of the University, as may be so specified; or

(b) that the activities of the student shall, during such period as may be specified in the direction, be restricted in such manners as may be so specified; or

(c) that the student be rusticated for such period as may be specified in the direction; or

(d) that the student be expelled from the University.

(2) Where a direction is given under subsection (1)( c) or within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner, appeal from the direction to the council, and where such an appeal is brought, the council shall after causing such inquiry to be made in the matter as the council consider just, either confirm or set aside the direction or modify it in such a manner as the council thinks fit.

(3) The fact that an appeal from a direction is brought in pursuance of the last foregoing subsection shall not affect the question of the direction while the appeal is pending.

(4) The Vice-Chancellor may delegate his powers under this section to a disciplinary board consisting of such members of the University as he may nominate.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing the restriction or termination of a student's activities at the University otherwise than on the ground of misconduct.

(6) It is hereby declared that a direction under subsection (1)(a) above may be combined with a direction under subsection (1)(b) above. "

Misconduct under this section has not been defined in the act but misconduct for removal by council of a member of academic or administrative staff has been classified to include;

"(1) Conviction for any offence which the council considers to be such as to render the person concerned unfit for the discharge of the functions of his office; and

(2) Conduct of a scandalous or other disgraceful nature which the council considers to be such as to render the person concerned unfit to continue to hold his office."

See section 15(1), (2) and (3) of the University of Maiduguri Act. It does appear to me that misconduct for which a student can be expelled by the Vice-Chancellor must necessarily include the two classes of misconduct. The specific provision for conviction of any offence is a recognition and an expression of the intention of the legislature that an offence must be prosecuted in the courts before any pronouncement of guilt as has been definitely laid down by this court in Denloye's case (supra).

The dictionaries have not been of much assistance in defining and classifying mis-conduct in the context of our law. The Pocket Oxford Dictionary 6th Edition edited by Sykes defines misconduct simply as "improper conduct especially adultery". Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridge defines misconduct "improper behaviour; specifically adultery and fornication". There is however no doubt that in the context in which the term is used in section 17 of the Act, the complaints, to wit arson, wilful destruction to properties, looting and assault, made against the appellants fall within the definition.

The next question is whether the fundamental rights of the appellants have been violated by their expulsion without trial and conviction in a court of tribunal from the university and whether the fundamental rights violated come within the provisions of section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution. It appears to me that the complaint of the appellants is that they were found guilty of criminal offences enumerated above without a trial by the Disciplinary Board to whom the Vice-Chancellor delegated his powers and on that finding they were expelled from the university.

It is clear from Exhibit A that the Disciplinary Board into which the Senate at its meeting on the 28-29 March, 1983 was constituted did not investigate the matter or conduct any inquiry of its own. The Board merely considered the report of the Investigating Panel and proceeded to advise the Vice-Chancellor to take appropriate actions. The question that readily comes to mind at this junction is:

What were the powers delegated to the Disciplinary Board? The provisions of section 17(1)(a), (b), (c) and (d) are clear and unambiguous. The Board has, like the Vice-Chancellor, to satisfy itself that the appellants were guilty of the offences charged as misconduct before proceeding to impose the punishment. There is under our law no sliding scale of elements of satisfaction as to the guilt of a person of an offence. The appearance of guilt is not a delusory appearance of guilt. The appearance of guilt which can satisfy this section is measured by the quantum of proof as laid down by law. It is the reason that guilt in criminal matters is left for the ascertainment of courts of law or other tribunals before it is accepted and acted upon by Administrative Tribunals. See Denloye's case. Basically, the right entrenched in section 33(1) is a right to:

(a) fair hearing

(b) within a reasonable time

(c) by a court or other tribunal established by law; and

(d) constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.

and in subsection (4) the right entrenched is a right, if charged with a criminal offence (unless the charge is withdrawn), to

(a) fair hearing

(b) within a reasonable time

(c) by a court of tribunal

This subsection must be seen as laying emphasis on the right of those charged with criminal offences to trial by a court or tribunal.

Learned counsel for the respondent has submitted that the protection afforded by this section only avails against the state to limit the powers of the judiciary the legislature and the executive and not to provide protection against private conduct. In support, he cited the case of P.D. Shamdasani v. The Central Bank of India Ltd. A.I.R. (39) 1952 Supreme Court 59. In that case, Patanjali Sastri, C.J. clearly pointed out that the language of the constitution deserved such construction when he said at p. 59 2nd column

"The language and structure of Art 19 and its setting clearly show that the article was intended to protect those freedoms against state action other than in the legitimate exercise of its power to regulate private rights in the public interest. Violation of rights of property by individual is not within the purview of the article."

The attitude of this Court to the construction of our Constitution has been stated by this Court in Nafiu Rabiu v. The State (1981) 2 N.C.L.R. 293; The Attorney-General of Bendel State v. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Others (1983) 3 N.C.L.R. 1; Senator Adesanya v. The President of the Federal Republic & Another (1981) 5 S.C. 112. It is that the provisions of the Constitution are to be given liberal construction so as to best carry out the intention of the founding fathers. Their construction is not to be guided by the construction of other constitutions in other common law jurisdictions unless similar provisions in pari materia were in question. This Court will not give to any provision of the Constitution a construction, which will defeat its obvious intention.

It therefore appears to me that the provisions of section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution have to be construed as they stand in our statute book and in the context of or their objective which is to ensure that justice is available to all and sundry in our courts or other tribunals.

I cannot on close examination of the text of the two subsections, discover any limitation of the protection granted to protection of the freedom from unfair hearing against the action of the state unless every person or authority performing quasi-judicial function is regarded as the State. Private prosecutions and state prosecutions of criminal cases are not unknown under our law. Similarly, institution of civil actions are not confined to private persons. Governments and other authorities are known to file civil claims in our courts. Indeed, the judicial powers vested in the courts by section 6 of the Constitution has been defined in subsection 6(b) as extending to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and any person in Nigeria and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto for the determination of any questions as to the civil rights and obligations of that person.

Judicial powers are not vested in private persons, administrative tribunals or other authorities. By the purported exercise of judicial powers, the person injured is denied the right to fair hearing under section 33(1) and (4) by the action of those persons or authorities.

If a person is accused of committing or having committed a criminal offence, his civil obligation not to commit the offence is called into question. Similarly, his civil right to freedom from arrest, prosecution and punishment is called into question.

I agree that "court or other tribunal" can be guilty of a denial of the right to fair hearing but persons and authorities who assume jurisdiction where they have none are equally guilty. By the emphasis on fair hearing in the provisions of subsections (1) and (4) of section 33 of the Constitution, it is my view that the necessity for compliance with all the rules of natural justice, audi alteram partem and nemo judex in causa sua, i.e. the twin rules or pillars of natural justice, have been adequately indicated, emphasised and expressly stated. Fair hearing is therefore not only a common law requirement in Nigeria but also a statutory and a constitutional requirement. The rules of natural justice must be observed in any adjudication process by any court or tribunal established by law.

When the Vice-Chancellor assumed the disciplinary powers under section 17 of the Act, he became not a court but a tribunal established by law acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. See Glynn v. Keele University and Another (1971) 2 All E.R. 89 Ch D. But he was not independent and not impartial. When he delegated his disciplinary powers to the Disciplinary Board, the Disciplinary Board became a tribunal bound to observe all the rules of natural justice. But the Board was not independent and some of the members not impartial. It is my opinion that when they undertook to investigate the crimes, identify those involved and who participated and their roles and apportion blame and recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against them, they were carrying out judicial functions. They were to carry out a trial of the appellants for crimes committed. That was not a matter of internal discipline. The crimes were in respect of the properties of the universities. They were crimes against State.

Having assumed judicial functions, they were bound to pass the qualification test to assume the judicial functions and were bound to act judicially and comply with the constitutional requirements of fair hearing. See Legal practitioners Disciplinary Board v. Gani Fawehinmi (supra).

The validity of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979 has not been called into question and as such subsection (2) of section 33 of the Constitution affords no defence to the respondents. It should be emphasised that the provisions of the subsection were without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1).

It may, at this juncture, be useful to direct our minds to the provisions of subsection (5) of section 33 which reads:

"Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty;

Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon such person the burden of proving particular facts."

The question "where is the person charged to be proved guilty?" naturally follows from that constitutional presumption. To this question, subsection (4) of section 33 supplies the answer. It is that the person is to be proved guilty before a court or tribunal. The case of Dr. O.E. Sofekun v. N.O.A. Akinyemi and Others (supra) fully supports my view. I pause to observe that the decision in that case was given by the Supreme Court sitting as a full court or court of 7 Justices. It is therefore my firm view that the fundamental right of the appellants to fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court has been violated by their being punished for criminal offences without a preceding trial and conviction by a court. This view also finds support in R. and R. v. St. John's College, Cambridge (1693) 4 Mod 233 K.B. In that case, the court said: "But where the law of the land is disobeyed, this court will take notice thereof notwithstanding the Visitor".

It is therefore clear that offences against the laws of the land fall outside the jurisdiction of the Visitor and the Vice-Chancellor. See also Casson and Another v. University of Aston in Birmingham (1983) 1 All E.R. 88. See also the article titled The Exclusive Jurisdiction of the University Visitor by Peter M. Smith Oct. 1981 Law Quarterly Review Vol. 97 pages 610-647. I therefore hold that neither the Vice-Chancellor nor the Disciplinary Board nor the Investigating Panel has any competence, power or jurisdiction over the complaints against the appellants.

Having disposed of the issue of the nature of the right violated, I will now proceed to deal with the competence of the High Court to entertain the claim.

Much has been said in counsel's argument about the exclusive jurisdiction of the Visitor and the classification of the action of the Chancellor as a matter of internal discipline, a domestic matter within the competence of the domestic forum. Very learned arguments were addressed to this Court by learned counsel on both sides and before bringing this judgment to a close it is apt that a statement on the current opinion on the limit of the Visitor's exclusive jurisdiction relevant to this case be made.

Almost without exception, the Visitors to all the Federal Universities in this country including the University of Maiduguri are named in the enabling Acts. Indeed, it should be noted that all the universities be they state-owned or Federal Government owned, are creatures of statutes and whatever common law powers they have will depend to the extent to which the particular common law is part of the general law of the land.

The article of Peter M. Smith on the Exclusive Jurisdiction of the University Visitor is very instructive on the issue. It is clear from the authorities that over the years the University Visitor lacked jurisdiction and indeed never exercised jurisdiction over offences against the laws of the realm (land). There have been numerous judicial pronouncements of eminent judges to that effect. See R. v. Dr. Bland (1740) 7 Mod 355, 356; R. I R. v. St. John's College Cambridge (1693) 4 Mod 233.

He has no jurisdiction in any matter governed by the common law, e.g. contract. See R. v. Windham (1776) 1 Cow p. 377,378. Thomson v. The University of London (1864) 33 L.J. Ch 625, 634; Casson & Another v. University of Aston in Birmingham (1983) 1 All E.R. 88; 91, 92. Thomas v. University of Bradford (1985) 3 W.L.R. 248.

Except under an express power, a Visitor cannot be judge in his own cause, R. v. Bishop of Ely (1788) 2 Term Rep 290; Attorney-General v. Middleton (1751) 2 Yes Sen 327 at 329; R. v. Hertford College (1878) 3 Q.E.D. 693 at 703 CA. See Vol. 5 Halsbury's Laws of England (4th Edition) paragraphs 872-884: The tribunal of the Visitor is forum domesticum its jurisdictin being derived from the founder's right to determine matters concerning his own creation. See Green v. Rutherforth (1750) 1 Ves Sen 462 at 472. The maxim is cujus est dare, ejus est dispenere, i.e. He who gives something may also direct how it is to be used. The University is by law entitled to own properties. See section 8(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act, 1979.

The complaint against the appellants is basically and essentially an allegation of destruction of university property. These are properties in the charge of the Vice-Chancellor and other officers of the University. Having regard to that fact and the serious nature of the offences, I would say that the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, Deputy Registrar and other officers of the University are vital witnesses and cannot be judges in their own cause. It is the law that a Visitor cannot be a judge in his own cause and on that ground the appeal must succeed. Learned counsel for the appellants drew the attention of the Court to the many cases such as Kayode Adams v. The State (1965) N.M.L.R. 111; Albert Laoye v. The State (1985) N. W.L.R. (Part 10) where serious crimes committed by students against the criminal code have been tried by competent courts of law and not by the Vice Chancellor or Disciplinary Board.

The Head of State is the Visitor of the University of Maiduguri. See section 13(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act. Beside duty to conduct a visitation or direct the conduct of a visitation in the University at least once every 5 years, the Act confers no other specific function on the Visitor. His jurisdiction in matters of discipline has been vested in the Federal Executive Council, now Council of Ministers, Council of the University, Vice-Chancellor and Disciplinary Boards. See sections 14, 15, 16 and 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act.

The trial of erring students for criminal offences or breaches of the criminal code and penal code Laws are not within the jurisdiction conferred. Accordingly the purported investigation by the Investigating Panel and Disciplinary Board and the punishment meted out to the appellants cannot stand and are hereby declared a nullity.

I would, in conclusion, repeat what I said in Dr. Sofekun's case (supra) at page 23 to wit:

"It is in the interest of the Government and every individual in this country that the guilt of crime should not be tagged on to any individual without a proper trial in courts of law known as such under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.".

The competence of the High Court to entertain the claims has constitutional basis in section 42 of the 1979 Constitution. That section reads:

"Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress."

It cannot be disputed that this section confers jurisdiction on the High Court of Borno State to entertain appellants' complaints of violation of their fundamental right under section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution and grant redress for such violation. I will allow the appeal and it is hereby allowed. The decision of the Court of Appeal is hereby set aside and in its place the decision of the trial court in respect of the four declarations prayed for are hereby restored.

For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared:

(1) that the expulsion of each of the appellants with effect from 30th March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri on the ground that they were guilty of arson, wilful damage, looting and assault which amount to criminal offences under the Criminal Code or Northern Nigerial Penal Code without trial and conviction by a court or tribunal is a violation of his fundamental right under section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979;

(2) that the expulsion of each of the appellants from the University of Maiduguri based on the said violation of the fundamental right of each of the appellants under section 33(1) and (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 is null and void and of no effect; and

(3) that each of the appellants is entitled to the fundamental right of fair hearing entrenched in section 33(1) and (4) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution 1979 and cannot be deprived of the said right by the respondent.

The appellants are entitled to costs in this appeal which is fixed at N300.00 in this Court and N200 in the Court of Appeal.

KAYODE ESO, J.S.C. - The facts of this case have been well stated in the judgment of the learned President of the Court of Appeal, Mamman Nasir P., and also well recapitulated in the lead judgment of my learned brother, Obaseki J.S.C. a preview of which I have had, and with which I fully agree. However, I will state some of the facts in so far as they are material to this concurring judgment.

On the 2nd of February 1983, a student uprising, which became very violent, took place in the University Campus in Maiduguri. About 500 of the 4,000 students took part in the uprising. It was so violent that the Senate of the University ordered a closure of the University and sent all the students home.

Following this disturbance, the Vice-Chancellor, acting with the approval of the Senate, set up 5-man-panel to investigate different aspects of the uprising. The Panel which is material to this appeal was the Disciplinary Investigation Board which was giving the following terms of reference

"(a) To investigate the remote and immediate causes of the recent grave student disturbances on the night of Wednesday the 2nd of February, 1983 in the University campus.

(b) To identify the principal organisers and perpetrators of the disturbances and in particular to investigate the activities of the executive members of the students union before during and after the disturbances.

(c) To identify all those who in any way at all participated in the disturbances.

(d) To determine the role of persons or organizations inside or outside the University of Maiduguri who are not members of the student body of the University of Maiduguri in influencing, planning, organising or executing the disturbance and what factors might motivate such interest.

(e) To assess and report on the extent of the damages inflicted upon public and private property and to give competent costing of such damages and losses using the services of appropriate appointed University professional (sic).

(f) To examine the performance and effectiveness of the University Security Information and communication system in anticipating, monitoring and apprehending the disturbances as well as reducing dangers to those involved and minimising the damages caused. (g) To comment on the role of law enforcement agencies in controlling the disturbances.

(h) To apportion blame or give credit, as the case may be, to all individuals concerned and in the former case, to recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits.

(i) To recommend measures to be taken by the University to forestall any such disturbances and to make such other recommendations as the committee may consider fit."

At this stage, I would like to refer to s.17 of the University of Maiduguri Act. 1979, No. 83 which provides-

"17 (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where it appears to the Vice-Chancellor that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct, the Vice-Chancellor may, without prejudice to any other disciplinary powers conferred on him by statutes or regulations, direct-

(a) that the student shall not, during such period as may be specified in the direction, participate in such activities of the University, or make use of such facilities of the University, as may be so specified; or

(b) that the activities of the student shall during such period as may be specified in the direction, be restricted in such manner as may be so specified; or

(c) that the student be rusticated for such period as may be specified in the direction; or

(d) that the student be expelled from the University.

2. Where a direction is given under subsection (1)(c) or (d) above in respect of any student, the student may, within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner, appeal from the direction to the council and where such an appeal is brought, the council shall, after causing such inquiry to be made in the matter as the council considers just, either confirm or set aside the direction or modify it in such manner as the council thinks fit.

3. The fact that an appeal from a direction is brought in pursuance of the last foregoing subsection shall not affect the question of the direction while the appeal is pending.

4. The Vice-Chancellor may delegate his powers under this section to a disciplinary board consisting of such members of the University as he may nominate.

5. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing the restriction or termination of a student's activities at the University otherwise than on the ground of misconduct.

No doubt, it is within the purview of the Vice-Chancellor to be satisfied that a "student of the University has been guilty of misconduct." And under the ordinary Administrative Law for it to appear to the Vice-Chancellor that the student is so guilty, is left to the Vice-Chancellor's own assessment and there would be no limitation as to the material upon which he could base such judgment. It is to this extent that the reasoning of Viscount Radcliffe in Adegbenro v. Akintola 1963 A. C. 614 would be relevant for when in construing the words "it appears to him" in section 33(10) of the Western Nigerian (Nigeria Constitution) Order in Council, 1960 (S.I. 1960 No. 1652) Sche. IV) the Law Lord said in the Privy Council

"When one turns to s.33 itself, the same kind of phrase "appears to him likely to command the support of the majority of the members of the House..." "appears to him that the Premier no longer commands the support of a majority of the members" with regard to the Governor's power of removal and yet no one has suggested in the course of argument that a Governor exercising the power of selection is under any legal restriction as to the persons he may consult or the material to which he may turn in aid of his decision"

How this has been modified by the Constitution of the Federal Republic 1979, hereinafter referred to as the Constitution, would be discussed later.

However, with the Vice-Chancellor having such full liberty to form his own opinion that, a student has been guilty of misconduct under the Act, it was proper for him to have set up the Disciplinary Investigation Board with the terms of reference aforesaid. Even without the influence of the Constitution, what is of importance here, is, whether or not, as in this case, once the terms of reference are made public and the manner by which the Vice-Chancellor became satisfied are known, the discretionary powers would or would not be reviewable by the Court. For, it is no longer a case of a person upon whom the discretion is conferred making a blunt, but authoritative statement, that he is satisfied. It seems to me to be a case wherein the data upon which that person has come to his conclusion would have to be examined objectively, according to the rules of natural justice, and no longer left to his subjectivity. Lord Denning. M.R., put it admirably in Education Secretary v. Tameside B. C. (C.A.) (1977) A. C. 1014 when he said

'The governing words which we have to consider here are, first, "If the Secretary of State is satisfied ... So much depends on the interpretation of those words that I must say something upon them.

So far as "satisfied" is concerned, it is suggested - and was suggested by the Chief officers of the local authority... that once the Secretary of State said that he was "satisfied" his decision could not be challenged in the courts unless it was shown to have been made in bad faith: We were referred by Mr. Bingham to Liverside v. Anderson (1942) A. C. 206, where Lord Atkin drew attention to cases where the Defence Regulations required the Secretary of State to be "satisfied" of something or other. Lord Atkin said, at p.233. "In all these cases it is plain that unlimited discretion is given to the Secretary of State, assuming as everyone does that he acts in good faith' to which I would add a similar passage by Somervell L.J. in re City of Plymouth (City Centre) Declaration Order 1946. Robinson v. Minister of Town and Country Planning (1947) K. B. 702, 721. Those statements were made, however in relation to regulations arising in war time or immediately after the war when the decisions of the executive had to be implemented speedily and without question. That was pointed out by Lord Radcliffe in Nakkuda Ali v. Javatne (1951) A. C. 66, 77 and by Lord Reid in Ridge v. Baldwin 1964 A. C. 40, 73. Those statements do not apply today. Much depends on the matter about which the Secretary of State has to be satisfied. If he is to be satisfied on a matter of opinion, that is one thing. But if he has to be satisfied that someone has been guilty of some discreditable or unworthy or unreasonable conduct, that is another. To my mind if a statute gives a Minister power to take drastic action if he is "satisfied that a local authority has acted unreasonably, then the Minister should obey all the elementary rules of fairness before he takes drastic action overruling them. He should give the party affected notice of the charge of impropriety or unreasonableness and a fair opportunity of dealing with it. pp. 1024-1025

I would add to this admirable statement by Lord Denning that to give a blind implementation to the decision of the executive, and without reference to the elementary rules of fairness is an abdication by the Judiciary of its powers of each of the organs of government Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary are distinct under the Constitution - see sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution.

It follows therefore, that when section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979, No. 83, gives a discretion to the Vice-Chancellor "where it appears to him that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct" and the data of his satisfaction are known, the Vice-Chancellor should under the ordinary rules of natural justice, even under the common law, obey the elementary rules of fairness and fair play before he finds against any such student or, as in this case, before he takes such a drastic action under section 17(1)(d) of the Act to expel the students.

I think, Chief Williams S.A.N., learned counsel for the Respondent University, would appear to have conceded this much, for he said, in his submission to us, that the Disciplinary Investigation Panel when sitting, should bear the complaints and representations of all concerned, but that hearing is not based upon s. 33 of the Constitution. In other words, hearing under the ordinary rules of fairness of common law and not necessarily under the Constitution. I would deal more in full with the submissions of both learned counsel anon, but meanwhile I would go back to the facts.

I had gone as far as stating the terms of reference of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel. The panel met, and during the conduct of investigations, interviewed 104 witnesses which included 76 students. The report of the Disciplinary Investigations Panel was submitted to the Vice-Chancellor, who in turn took it to the Committee of Provost, Deans and the Senate of the University. The Senate thereupon accepted the recommendation of the Panel and advised the Vice-Chancellor on the appropriate course of action which included the action of expulsion from the University, taken by the Vice-Chancellor on the present appellants. As I have said, they were expelled from the University.

At this stage, I think it is pertinent to examine the complaints of the Appellants. They filed a declaratory action in the court. The nature of the action which they have brought is important, for Chief Williams S.A.N. made a very strong point on it. He said in his oral submission before us

"s. 33 of the Constitution will not arise, when the case is based on alleged breach of contract ... You may bring Certiorari, but you cannot bring proceedings under s. 33 as you are not dealing with a section 33 right"

The declaratory action of the appellants is as follows

(a) A declaration that the applicants' expulsion with effect from 30th March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of their fundamental rights to fair hearing.

(b) An injunction restraining the Respondent, his servants and/or, agents from interferring with the aforesaid rights of the applicants.

(c) An interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondent, his servants and/or agents from interfering with the aforesaid rights of the applicants pending the determination of this suit and re-admitting the applicants to the University pending the determination of this action.

(d) And for such further or other orders as this Honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.'

Having filed this writ, their solicitor set out the complaints of the appellants. They are

"The applicants were not given a fair hearing before the Respondent expelled the applicants from the University of Maiduguri with effect from 30th march, 1983.'

The particulars which the solicitor attached to this complaint are

(a) All the (sic) allegation leveled against the applicants through witnesses were received by the Respondent in the absence or the applicants.

(b) The applicants were not given the opportunity of seeing or cross-examining any of the witnesses who so testified before the investigating Panel set up by the Respondents against the applicants.

There were other complaints, but one upon which Chief Gani Fawehinmi learned counsel has laid considerable emphasis in his contention in this appeal is as follows-

'The alleged rampage and wanton destruction of property leveled against the applicant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt against the applicants as required by law before the Respondent expelled the applicants from the University.'

The other two complaints have not been relied upon in the appeal before this Court and I need not set them down.

What are the details of the complaints? They are better seen in the findings of the Investigation Panel on the Rampage.

Extracts from this Report are as follows -

"At about 9.00 p.m. Mr. Zadok and a small group of his supporters who were fore-armed with inflamable materials such as petrol and matchets, and dangerous weapons led a crowd of about 500 students to the Residential are of the University, attacked the Vice Chancellor's lodge where they set fire on the Guest Lodge, the main lodge and the mosque and burnt and destroyed six cars and bicycle belonging to his five year old child. Many of the students who accompanied Mr. Zadok to the Vice-Chancellor's lodge ran back in panic when they saw the Vice-Chancellor's house set on fire. At the Registrar's house the students burnt three cars destroying another one. There was an attempt to set the house on fire.

At the residence of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Central Administration) there was an attempt to set the house on fire. The students broke into the house carrying away with them Television sets, books, cooked and raw food, live chicken and destroyed children's lunch boxes and toys.

At the residence of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services) the demonstrating students burnt two cars and destroyed window glasses.

From the residential area, the demonstrating students proceeded to the bookshop where they burnt the bookstore.

From the Bookshop, the students broke into the Aisha Hall (the Female Hostel) where they manhandled some female students in their rooms and left many of them in utter disgrace and humiliation. Evidence reveals that some of the female students might have been raped.

Senate notes that out of a total number of four thousand students only about five hundred students went to the Residential area and only less than one hundred students took part in the destruction, arson and the looting. From the pattern of arson and destruction the intention of the perpetrators of that ghastly incident is far more sinister than the atrocities they were able to actually commit. It was a carefully planned though hurriedly executed insurrection.

The Investigation Panel interviewed 104 witnesses which includes 76 students, 25 members of staff and 3 non-staff. Witnesses included the key planners of the rampage and those who actually took part in the destruction and arson, their close associates and many students volunteers who appeared and testified before the Panel. In spite of the call by one suspended P.R.O. to students not to appear before the Investigation Disciplinary Board, all the Executive Council members except Mr. Zadok and the P.R.O. came before the Panel."

It is evident from this report that though criminal charges of arson, stealing and indecent assault were leveled against the students, there was nothing to show that the appellants have the opportunity of questioning the witnesses or that they were even present during the examination of those witnesses by the Panel There was nothing to show that the charges were leveled against the appellants specifically and that they had the opportunity of defending themselves. All we have is that the investigation panel "interviewed 104 witnesses which included 76 students 25 members of staff and 3 non-staff". The type of interview thus conducted remained unexplained.

The question is therefore: Is this case then a criminal accusation or merely that the facts of the misconduct amount to a crime? Are the Appellants placed in jeopardy? Could the appellants be convicted on the evidence adduced even without the opportunity of defending them selves? Is s.33 of the Constitution applicable?

Let us refresh out memory with the fundamental right granted by s.33(1) of the Constitution. It is that a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law.

Chief Fawehinmi, learned counsel for the appellants, stated four issued for our determination. They are

(1) whether or not the High Court was competent to have entertained the action;

(2) whether in the exercise of the powers conferred by s.17(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979, the Vice Chancellor and his appointee, that is the investigating panel, ought to apply the rules of Natural Justice;

(3) whether the Appellants established a breach of s. 33(1) of the 1979 Constitution; and

(4) whether the trial court was competent to grant the reliefs which he granted to the Appellants, assuming he has Jurisdiction.

Chief Williams, S.A.N. learned Senior Advocate representing the Respondents, has however warned of the danger in reading too much into s. 33 of the Constitution, for the court will uphold the rules of natural justice even if s. 33 of the Constitution had not been there. A student has a contractual status with the University. Learned counsel submitted that the discipline of any student who has matriculated is the internal problem of the University, whereas the criminal guilt is not the internal affairs of the University. He relied, among other authorities on Thomas v. University of Bradford (CA.) (1958) T.L.R. of November 4, 1985 where the Court of Appeal in England dismissed an appeal by the University against the decision of the High Court. Incidentally, Chief Fawehinmi for the Appellant, had referred us to the High Court decision in that case. It is reported in (1985) 3 W.L.R. 249. This case is of importance and I will deal with it at this stage.

Whitford J., in the High Court, dealt at length with the distinction between what should be before the domestic forum of the Visitor in which case it would be within the University's exclusive jurisdiction wherein the Court would have no jurisdiction and what should be within the court's jurisdiction. He referred to the important decision, by the Supreme Court of Western Australia, in Murdock University v. Bloon and Kyle 1980 W.A.R. 193. In that case, some very important English authorities, upon the subject were considered, to wit, Thomson v. University of London 33 L.J. Ch. 625; Patel v. University of Bradford Senate (1978) 1 W.L.R. 1488; Rex v. Dunsheath, Exparte Meredith (1951) 1KB 127. Burt C.J., who delivered the judgment of the Australian Supreme Court (it was a split decision), held-

"The jurisdiction of the Visitor is confined to matters concerning the internal management of the corporation. But, accepting that line of demarcation as I do, I find it to lack definition and to lack certainty"

But a more up-to-date study of the powers of the Visitor and his exclusive jurisdiction, will be found in an article by Dr. peter Smith in the 1981. October issue of the Law Quarterly Review p. 610 a study which Lord Hailsham of Marylebone L.C. termed as exhaustive and up to date (see Casson v. University of Aston in Birmingham (1983) 1 All E.R. 88, a case which came before the learned Lord Chancellor in his capacity as Visitor.) In that article, after a careful study, Dr Smith made the following important pronouncements - important to this case because Chief Williams theme is that the student has a contract with the University

"A contract is therefore not one which relates to the internal arrangements and dealing with regard to the government and management of the house... so as to be within the Visitor's exclusive jurisdiction, simply because the other parties are also in the relationship of corporation and corporate. Indeed, on the contrary, the contractual relationship, like that of a trust, is ultra vires the Visitor's authority in so far as that relationship is governed by the general laws of the realm. If then the Visitor possesses a jurisdiction with respect to contracts relating to the internal affairs of the foundation, it can only be on the basis that the relationship is regulated by the private rules of the foundation which the Visitor is to supervise than any general law.'

I respectfully adopt this statement of Dr. Peter Smith. And as the learned author had earlier said in his article

"the Visitor is ... a private judge involved with purely domestic matters concerning the internal government and management of the foundation."

Being such a private judge, he would be limited to the provisions setting up and governing the University. Whenever the general law of the land are involved like criminal law, he has no jursidiction whatsoever!

I am not in the least limiting the powers of the Visitor or in regard to the domestic forum. Issues of awarding degrees, grades of the degrees, admission to the University, calling meetings of the Senate and Deans are all within the visitorial powers. How about expulsion? I have ho doubt in my mind that a Visitor has exclusive jurisdiction in the expulsion of a student when the issues concerned are purely domestic. If a student is in the habit of never attending classes, contrary to the regulations of the University, the Visitor has power to expel him without recourse to the court except as regards obedience of the rules of natural justice. If a student is rude to authority, the Visitor, in enforcing discipline, has exclusive jurisdiction to expel him. There must be other reasons where the Visitor has exclusive power to expel a student. To be otherwise would allow or encourage lawlessness in the Universities. The great problem over the years, has been where to draw the line. Where does domesticity end and the general law of the land commence? Each case of course, must depend on its own individual facts.

There is no doubt whatsoever that by virtue of s. 17(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act, the Vice-Chancellor may expel a student of the University who is guilty of misconduct, once the issues are domestic. Our enquiry in this appeal is whether such provision gives the Vice-Chancellor exclusive jurisdiction to expel such a student without recourse to the principles of natural justice and also with no jurisdiction in the Court to question such expulsion, or whether such expulsion must be subject to the jurisdiction of the tribunals set up by the Constitution to determine the legal right of a person. Even where the matter is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Visitor, there must be the question whether or not the rules of natural justice must be followed. In Bishop of Chichesterv. Harvard and Webber (1987) 1 T.R. 650, it has been held that the Visitor, like any other inferior judge, is subject to control by the common law courts. It is the duty of the common law courts to ensure that the Visitor is acting within his jurisdiction. Prohibition could lie if he exceeded his rights and so would Certiorari if he failed to observe the norms of natural justice.

Chief Williams, again I think, conceded this much. His case is that one would not bring proceedings as in the present case under s.33 of the Constitution, for he submitted that fundamental rights are rights against the State Legislature and Judicial powers.

In regard to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Visitor on internal matters, what is generally questioned is not the power of the court over excess or lack of jurisdiction or the norm of natural justice not being followed, it is whether the court can enter that internal jurisdiction for the purpose of the determination (not supervisory) of such matters that are within that exclusive jurisdiction. This has been stated long ago in the year Book see Hale in Y.B. 8 E. 3 Lib Ass p. 31 of 18.

For, notwithstanding the fact that in the forum domesticum belonging to the Visitor's jurisdiction, the Court would refuse to enter, (see Phillips v. Bury 1694 Hold KB 715; St. Johns College v. Todington (1757) 1 Burr 158 as per Lord Mansfield at p. 202; Thomson v. The University of London (1864) 33 L.J. Ch. 625 of which Kindersley V.C. said "it was hardly possible to suggest any case which was more clearly within the cognizance and the exclusive cognizance, of the Visitor;" R. v. Dunsheath Ex Parte Meredith 1951 1 KB 127) and though the court would, on a broad principle, appear wholly to exclude itself from the jurisdiction of the Visitor, (of whose jurisdiction, the words of William Shakespeare "Ceaser does no wrong-" could be apt), yet the Visitor, acting judicially, has always been compellable by Prerogative action to hear an appeal and to observe the age long principles of natural justice. The dicta "nemo judex in causa sua" and "audi alteram partem" have always had to be observed. See R. v. Bishop of Chelsea (1928) 2 Stra 797; R. v. Bishop of Ely 1788 2 TR 290. I think Dr. Peter Smith in his article "Jurisdiction of University Visitor, to which I have already made reference, made a brilliant summing up of the situation and this I would respectfully adopt. The learned author said-

"It is clear, therefore, that the existence of a Visitor will not ipsofacto exclude the general courts of law from proceeding in any given case, but it must be shown that the Visitor does have jurisdiction in the matter, and is able to provide a remedy. If the Visitor is disabled for any reason, such as interest in the case from hearing and determining an application made to him, the court's jurisdiction remains intact to entertain a suit by the party seeking a remedy, notwithstanding that there may be a Visitor of the corporation appointed, for there is a general principle that where there is no other specific legal remedy to obtain the ends of justice, the courts of law will interfere, lest there should be a defect of justice."

Now, if the ordinary rules of natural justice apply in this case, will that exclude the application of s. 33 of the Constitution? The answer will however, depend on the nature of the relief sought. In this case, the claim is for-

"A declaration that the applicants' expulsion with effect from the 30th march, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of the fundamental rights to fair hearing.'

There is no doubt that the action of the applicants is hinged on a constitutional provision; and I do not agree, with respect to Chief Williams, that this case is based solely on breach of contract.

Section 42 of the Constitution confers special jurisdiction on the High Court-

"42 Any person who alleges that any of the proceedings of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any state in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.'

I think this special jurisdiction could be invoked anytime there is a breach, or threatened breach of the provisions of Chapter IV of the Constitution, which sets out all the fundamental rights guaranteed to a citizen.

Section 33 says -

"In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against a government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality."

I have earlier stated in this judgment the submission of Chief Williams thereupon which amounts to restricting the provisions to rights against the State, Legislature and Judicial Powers ... In my respectful view the Court has a duty, once it is seised with the determination of the civil rights and obligations of any person, to be guided by the principles of fair hearing. This Court has laid so much emphasis on this in Ariori v. Elemo 1983 (S.C.N.L.R) Vol. 1, p. 1. Aniagolu J.S.C. in that case regarded it as the duty of the State in its existence to do justice both to the State as well as justice to the citizens. I do not intend to interprete the words 'including any question or determination by or against any government or authority' as restricting the rights only to these institutions. Indeed, having regard to what I termed in Ariori v. Elemo (supra) as the essence of our Constitution. The comparative educational backwardness, the socio-economic background of the people and the reliance that is being placed and necessarily have to be placed, as a result of this backwardness on the courts, it would be safer for the courts in this country to err on the side of liberalism whenever it comes to the interpretation of the fundamental provisions in the Constitution than to import some restrictive interpretation.

I think s.33 of the Constitution applies with full force to this case.

Having so held the only other authority I would, in conclusion, consider relevant to this case is the decision of this Court in Dr. O.G. Sofekun v. N.O.A. Akinyemi (1980) 5-7 SC1. There the Court held, interpreting s. 22 of the 1963 Constitution which is in pari-materia with s. 33 of the 1979 Constitution

"Bearing in mind that words 'by a court" is only used once and at the tail-end of subsection (2) of sectin 22, the word "charged" in the first line thereof can only be synonmous with the word "accused". No other construction is, in my view, possible. Moreover, because of the mandatory provisions of the subsection. It seems to me that once a person is accused of a criminal offence, he must be tried in a "court of

law" where the complaints of his accusers can be ventilated in public and where he would be sure of getting a fair hearing as set out in subsections (4) to (10) of section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No other tribunal, investigating panel, or committee will do." see p. 18

I think the facts in this case are clear as to the allegations made out against the appellants. I have already set them out in this case. They were charged of arson, looting, stealing, indecent assault - grievous criminal charges indeed, in respect of which "Senate at its meeting of 28th - 29th March 1983 was constituted into a disciplinary Board." They considered the report of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel which investigated those charges. The Senate was not a tribunal or court "set up under the Constitution' and it was in consequence of their report that the "Disciplinary Board of Senate endorsed the action of the Vice Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor decided to take action." in respect of "such students identified' by the Panel 'to have participated in the rampage," to expel those students from the University. In other words, here is a trial of very serious criminal charges by a body other than a legal Tribunal or more particularly a "court of law" set up by the Constitution where the complaints for these students' accusers could be publicly ventilated, where those accuser could be publicly cross examined by the students in regard to the veracity of their accusations, where the students could be sure of getting a fair hearing as required by the Constitution.

Of course, what happened is in serious breach of s. 33 of the Constitution, and for these reasons, and the reasons stated in the lead judgment of my learned brother, Obaseki, J.S.C., this appeal must be and it is hereby allowed.

I abide by all the orders made by my brother, Obaseki, J.S.C.

NNAMANI, J.S.C. - I have a preview of the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Obaseki, J.S.C. He has exhaustively dealt with the issues raised before us and I therefore agree with his reasoning and conclusions.

The matters with which we have had to deal are not only sensitive but important and it is for this reason that I have deemed it necessary to add this concurring comment. I shall rely on the background facts of this matter as set down in the lead judgment. There are certain matters, which I must set down if this comment is to be intelligible. There is no doubt that there was a student rampage in the University of Maiduguri on 2nd February 1983. 500 students are said to have taken part in this unfortunate incident in which wanton destruction of property of the University and that of its principal officers occurred. The grim events of that day are graphically set down in Exhibit A. The most important areas for purposes of this suit are in these words:-

"Senate notes that out of a total number of four thousand students only about five hundred students went to the Residential area and only less than one hundred students took part in the destruction, arson and the looting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............................................................................................

The Investigation Panel interviewed 104 witnesses which included 76 students, 25 members of staff and 3 non-staff. Witnesses included the key planners of the rampage and those who actually took part in the destruction and arson, their close associates and many students volunteers who appeared and testified before the Panel'

Then there was the punishment imposed on the appellants which led to this suit and which was set down in the same Exhibit A. It reads

Disciplinary Actions on Students

Having regard to the provisions of s.17 of the University of Maiduguri Act, 1979, Senate at its meeting of 28-29th March 1983 was constituted into a Disciplinary Board to consider the report of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel that investigated the students' rampage and advised the Vice Chancellor to take appropriate disciplinary actions against those students who took part in the rampage of 2nd February, 1983. After a careful consideration of the role played by students identified to have participated in the rampage, the Disciplinary Board of Senate advised the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor decided to take actions as follows:

1. That the following students should be expelled from the University with immediate effect:

28 students including the appellants were expelled. It is pertinent to state the reliefs claimed from the High Court and the grounds on which they were based. In similar claims, each appellant had claimed.

"1. A declaration that the Applicant's expulsion with effect from the 30th March, 1983 from the University of Maiduguri constitutes a violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing.

2. A declaration that the applicant be re-admitted into the University of Maiduguri to continue with his studies with immediate effect.

3. A declaration that the respondent acted with bias in purporting to expel the applicant.

4. A declaration that the applicant cannot be deprived of his fundamental rights".

The most salient particulars of complaint was that-

"1 (a) All the allegations levelled against the applicant through witnesses were received by the respondent in the absence of the applicant.

(b) the applicant was not given the opportunity of seeing or cross examining any of the witnesses who so testified before the investigating panel set up by the respondent against the appellant.

2. The alleged rampage and wanton destruction of property levelled against the applicant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt against the applicant as required by law before the respondent expelled the applicant from the university"

I find it convenient to comment on the 4 questions raised by learned counsel to the appellants, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in roughly the same order as he dealt with them in this Court. The 4 questions for determination according to him were:

1. Was the High Court competent to entertain the action?

2. Whether in exercise of the University of Maiduguri Act No. 83 of 1979, the Vice-Chancellor and his appointee the Investigation Panel ought to apply the rules of natural justice?

3. Whether the appellants established a breach of Section 33(1) of the 1979 Constitution? and

4. Was the trial Court competent to grant the reliefs, which it granted to the appellants?

Starting with the second question, Section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act No. 83 of 1979 provides as follows:

"17(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where it appears to the Vice Chancellor that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct, the Vice Chancellor may, without prejudice to any other disciplinary powers conferred on him by statute of regulations, direct

(a) that the student shall not, during such period as may be specified in the direction, participate in such activities of the University, or make use of such facilities of the University, as may be so specified; or

(b) that the activities of the student .shall, during such period as may be specified in the direction, be restricted in such manner as may be so specified; or .

(c) that the student be rusticated for such period as may be specified in the direction; or

(d) that the student be expelled form the University

2. Where a direction is given under Subsection (1)(c) or (d) above in respect of any student, the student may, within the prescribed period and in the council shall, after causing such inquiry to be made on the matter as the council considers just, either confirm or set aside the direction or modify it in such manners as the council thinks fit . .........................................................................................

(4) The Vice-Chancellor may delegate his powers under this section to a disciplinary board consisting of such members of the University as he may nominate.

(5) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as preventing the restriction or termination of a student's activities at the University otherwise than on the ground of misconduct. ( )

It is clear that under Subsection (1) the discretion is that of the Vice Chancellor and he is to act if it appears to him. But it is also clear from the provisions of that section that all the Subsections deal with various degrees of punishment. On the face of it the powers conferred on the Vice-Chancellor would seem as if he could without any restraints whatsoever hand out those disciplinary measures particularly having regard to Subsection (5). There is no definition of misconduct in the statute for purposes of the exercise of these powers. But there are certain constraints. It seems fairly settled now that the exercise of disciplinary powers may import a power to act judicially in accordance with natural justice. In higher educational institutions, if the penalty imposed or liable to be imposed is severe, the disciplinary proceedings have to be in accordance with the principles of natural justice. See Glynn v. Keele University (1971) 1 W.L.R. 487. There the power conferred on the Vice-Chancellor was to "suspend any student from any class or classes and may exclude any student from any part of the University or its precincts" Following an incident in the University Campus on 19th June, 1970, the Vice-Chancellor wrote to the Plaintiff informing him that he had been fined 'a310 and excluded from residence in any residential accommodation in the University Campus. It was held that the powers of the Vice-Chancellor to suspend a student were so fundamental to the position of a student in the University that they could not be regarded merely as a matter of internal discipline; accordingly the Vice-Chancellor was acting in a quasi-judicial capacity when he exercised them; so acting, he had not complied with the rules of natural justice as he did not give the plaintiff a chance of being heard before he reached his decision on the infliction of penalty. In that case Pennycuick V.C. concluded thus at p. 96

"I have found considerable difficulty in making up my mind as to which side of the line those powers fall. When the Vice-Chancellor exercises those powers should he be regarded as acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, or should he be regarded as acting merely in what I have called a magisterial capacity? On the best consideration I can give it - but let me say at once it is by no means the end of the matter - I have come to the conclusion that those powers are so fundamental to the position of a student in the university that the Vice-Chancellor must be considered as acting in a quasi-judicial capacity when he exercises them. I do not think it would be right to treat those powers as mere matters of internal discipline"

Also in Ceylon University v. Fernando (1960) 1 W.L.R. 223, a case in many ways similar to the present one, the respondent, a student, was alleged to have had prior knowledge of a passage in German that he was to translate in an examination. A Commission of Inquiry consisting of the Vice-Chancellor and 2 others set up under Clause 8 of the Statute of the University in which the Vice-Chancellor was to be "satisfied" that any candidate had prior knowledge, found against him. He was reported to the Board of Discipline and Residence which suspended him. In an action by the student, he complained that the findings of the Commission were against the principles of natural justice in that the evidence of the various witnesses, including that of the person who had made the allegation against him, was taken in his absence and he was not aware of the evidence led against him or the case he was to meet. The Privy Council held that the Inquiry by the Commission must comply with the essential principles of fairness which must as a matter of necessary implication be treated as applicable in the discharge of the Vice-Chancellor's admittedly quasi-judicial functions, in the other words with the principles of natural justice.

However, as the student appeared before the Commission of Inquiry and was adequately informed of the case he had to meet and given opportunity to meet it, the Court felt that those principles had not been violated. It was not felt that it was necessary to unmask the particular person who made the allegation against the respondent.

It follows, therefore, that the functions given to the Vice-Chancellor under Section 17 of the relevant Act are quasi-judicial and have to be exercised with due regard to the principles of natural justice. I must hasten to add that in the instant appeal it cannot be said that the Vice Chancellor himself did not act with due cognizance of those principles. The problem lay, as I shall deal with hereafter, with the Investigating Panel and the Disciplinary Board.

As to the principles of natural justice, the main pillars have been the subject of several dissertations and judicial decisions. The two outstanding ones are firstly that a man may not be a judge in his own cause usually expressed in the latim maxim judex in propria causa audi alteram partem rule - the right to be heard. It is to the second that I shall pay particular attention although I am not unaware that it was part of the appellants' complaints that the Chairman of the Investigating Panel who was a victim of the destruction of property during the rampage was in effect a judge in his own cause and so there was a real likelihood of bias.

The audi alteram partem rule stipulates that each party must be given an opportunity of stating his case and answering if he can any arguments put forward against it. See Cooper v. Wandsworth Board of Works 14 C.B. (N.S.) 180. The rule requires that a person liable to be directly affected by proposed administrative acts, decisions or proceedings be given adequate notice of what is proposed so as to give him an opportunity to make representations, and effectively prepare his own case and to answer the case he has to meet. It is therefore essential that the person involved be given prior notice of the case against him so that he can prepare to meet that case. See Durayappah v. Fernando (1967) 2A.C. 337 (P.C.); Schmidtv. Secretary of State for Home Affairs (1969) 2 C.H. 1149; Chettlar v. Chettlar (1962) 1 W.L.R. 279; R. v. Birkenhead 11 Exp. Fisher (1962) 1 W.L.R. 1410; Ridge v. Baldin 1964 A.C. 40 at 71-79 per Lord Reid; Kandav Government of the Federation of Malaya (1962) A.C. 322 at p. 337 particularly at p. 311; Hart v. Governor of Rivers State (1976) 11 S.C. 211.

In the instant appeal; the Vice-Chancellor set up an Investigation Panel whose terms of reference included-

"(a) To identify the principal organisers and perpetrators of the disturbances and in particular to investigate the activities of the executive members of the Student's Union before; during and after the disturbances

(b) To identify all those who in any way at all participated in the disturbances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(c) To assess and report on the extent of the damage inflicted upon public and private property and to give competent costing of such damages and losses using the services of appropriate University professionals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .........................................................................................

(h) To apportion blame or give credit as the case may be to all individuals concerned and in the former case to recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits"

From the statement Exhibit A part of which was set down above, it seems that the Panel which was said to have interviewed 104 witnesses proceeded in its inquiry in the manner of a fact finding body. There was no cross-examination of any witnesses. It has to be remembered that from the contents of Exhibit A, the offences disclosed as having been committed by the preparatory of the carnage included wanton destruction of property, looting, arson and indecent assault. After its inquiry, the Investigation Panel reported to the Vice-Chancellor on the students identified as having participated in the rampage. It was in respect of the case of those students that the Disciplinary Board of Senate advised the Vice-Chancellor on the various disciplinary actions taken.

The appellants who must be taken as having allegedly been found to have participated in the looting, destruction of property, arson and indecent assault were never informed by the Investigation panel of any such charges against them; they were never confronted with the witnesses who identified them as having participated in the rampage. After the Investigation Panel had received evidence against them and so identified them as among the perpetrators of the destruction etc., they were never invited to the Disciplinary Board of the Senate and given a last chance to answer to those serious allegations. In reply to the complaint of the appellants that they were neither informed of the charges against them nor allowed to cross-examine the witnesses who gave the dandifying testimony against them, the respondent, per Abubakar S. Chide of the Students Affairs Department replied that

"the contents of paragraphs 9 and 10 of the applicants' affidavits are not true as the panel gave the applicant's opportunity of being heard and the applicant's did not at any time request to recall any witness or witnesses. Further the Panel was not set up to try any particular person but to find out the remote and immediate causes of the wanton destruction of property by the students and recommend appropriate disciplinary measures".

The appellants being among the 104 witnesses allegedly interviewed can be said to have been "heard" but they cannot, having regard to the principles of natural justice discussed above, be said to have had an opportunity of knowing the case they were to meet, or an opportunity of being heard in reply to the serious allegations made against them. There was therefore in my view a serious breach of the principles of natural justice.

The next question was whether the fundamental rights of the appellants to fair hearing had been breached. I have already discussed the breach of the principles of natural justice in that the appellants were not given the opportunity of being heard before they were condemned. Implicit in all this is the principle of fairness, an opportunity to the other side to put forward its own version of the story; an opportunity to be heard within a reasonable time by an impartial body. This principle of fairness has been given constitutional expression in Section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1979 as amended. Subsections (1) and (4) provide as follows:-

"33(1) In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and Impartiality.................... ...............................................................................................................................................................

(4) Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence, he shall unless the charge is withdrawn be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal"

The courts to which the judicial power of the State have been vested under our constitution are set out in Section 6(2) (3) and (5) thereof.

As I indicated earlier, the offences for which the appellants were undoubtedly held liable by the Board and the Panel included looting, arson, destruction of property and indecent assault. These are offences under the Penal Code and therefore are triable only by the regular courts of law. Neither the Investigation Panel which investigated these serious charges, nor the Disciplinary Board of the Senate which considered its findings, is a court of law. Neither of them was competent to adjudicate on matters connected with the rights of the appellants once the allegations included crimes. The attitude of this Court in relation to criminal matters in circumstances such as occurred here has been clearly stated in Sofekun v. Akinyemi (1980) 5-7 S.C. 1 at 137; Ted Kayode Adams v. The State 1966 N.M.L.R. 111; Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Committee (1968) 1 All N.L.R. 306 In Sofekun's case, Fatayi-Williams, C.J.N. at p. 18 said:

"It seems to me that once a person is accused of a criminal offence he must be tried in a "court of law" where the complaints of his accusers can be ventilated in public and where he would be sure of getting a fair hearing as set out in Subsection (4) to (10) of Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. No other tribunal investigating panel, or committee will do"

That was Section 22 of the 1963 Constitution. The similar sections are now Section 33(4) - (13) of the 1979 Constitution. See also Adeyinka Laoye v. The State (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. 832.

In the other question, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the respondents had questioned the competence of the High Court to entertain the complaints of the appellants. This was mainly predicated on his contention that the relationship of the appellants to the University was contractual based on their membership of the University. Based on this, the grievances of the appellants, he contended, were matters, which ought to have gone to the visitor of the University to be dealt with under his visitatorial jurisdiction.

The short answer to this is that the relationship of the appellants to the respondent is principally statutory not contractual. Under Section 2 (1)(i) of the University of Maiduguri Act No. 83, of 1979, the appellants are members of the University. Section 13 (1) of the Act provides that the Head of State of Nigeria shall be the visitor of the University. By Subsection (2) thereof, the visitor shall as often as the circumstances may require, not being less than once every five years, conduct a visitation of the University or direct that such a visitation be conducted by such person as the visitor may deem fit and in respect of the affairs of the University. It was contended that the matters which have arisen in this suit were matters which could have been dealt with under the dictatorial jurisdiction of the visitor. The nature of the matters which can fall into the visitatorial jurisdiction has been decided by a long line of case. See Akintemi v. Onwumechili (1985) 1 N.W.L.R. 68; Patel v. University of Bradford Senate (1978) 1 W.L.R. 1488, Thomson v. University of London (1864) 33 L.J. CH 625: Thorne v. University of London (1966) 2 Q.B. 237; Herring v. Templeman 3 All E.R. 569. In Thomas v. Bradford University (1985) 3 W.L.R. 248, Whitford J. attempted to set down those matters that came within the internal discipline of the University. He said at p. 254

"Burt C.J. (in Murdoch University v. Bloom and Kyle (1980) W.A.R. 193) deals with a number of matters which he suggests could plainly be classified as "domestic" or "internal". At p. 197 he cites questions concerning the validity of elections to membership of the corporation, the mutual rights and obligations of the corporations, and its members and officers; the motion from or deprivation of fellowship or threatened exclusion from a right of admission to that dignity notwithstanding possible success in the qualifying examination; the maintenance of order confined to offences against some other statutes, or the common law..... There is, I think, no point in citing further authorities as the position in general terms is now well established in being that the jurisdiction of the visitor - the domestic forum - is confined to questions of domestic nature"

All this is at the common law. It has never been suggested that offences which are against the criminal law of the land would fall within the dictatorial jurisdiction. In the instant appeal, the alleged offences were looting, arson, destruction of property and indecent assault. They are not internal matters of the University.

Although the common law is part of the law of this country, I would go further to say that I share the doubts about the position of the Visitor expressed by Akanbi, J.C.A. in the Court of Appeal. The learned Justice said:

"I need only add that I have not been persuaded to the view that the visitor in Nigeria with a written Constitution is in the same position as the visitor in other common law jurisdictions. With a written constitution that has entrenched in it fundamental rights provisions which are justice able, I would be slow to (sic) the view that the jurisdiction to hear and determine cases which ordinarily is the matter for the court can be said to be exclusively in the hands of the visitor of the University. I am not saying that the Visitor has no part to play in these matters. But clearly, his jurisdiction in such matters has to be clearly defined and must be ascertainable".

I do not actually know what the role of the Visitor could have been having regard to the circumstances of this matter, and having regard to the statutory functions ascribed to the visitor under Act No. 83 of 1979, it is to the University Council that the appellants could have lodged an appeal if the issues were such as could be dealt with within the statutes of the University. It seems to me fair to conclude that if, as indeed they felt that the appellants fundamental rights had been breached it was to the High Court, and not the Visitor that they had to go for relief.

Finally, there is a contention that the High Court ought not to have granted the reliefs which it granted. With all respect due cognizance has not been taken of the provisions of Section 42(2) of the Constitution which provides-

"Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a High Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made to it in pursuance of the provisions of this Section and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement, within that State, of any rights to which the person who makes the application may be entitled under This Chapter"

As had been clearly stated in this judgment the bodies that dealt with this matter gravely violated the fundamental rights of the appellants to fair hearing as well as the general principles of natural justice.

Before concluding this concurring judgment, I would wish to state that nothing I have said can or ought to be taken as condoning the wanton destruction or property, arson etc. perpetrated by whoever took part in those unfortunate events. In the interest of continued development of higher education in this country, it is necessary that the two sides in the University Community - i.e. staff and students should show restraint in dealing with problems which must inevitably arise. Students must channel their grievances through established and sometimes well tested institutions set up for the purpose. University authorities in imposing disciplinary measures must of necessity do so in accordance with the laws of the land. I must repeat the views I expressed in Laoye's case (supra) in which I lamented the tendency of University authorities to settle in the campus matters which properly belong to the domain of the regular courts. Disciplinary measures ought to be imposed with firmness but where possible, particularly in cases of less serious misconduct, with compassion and understanding.

It is for these reasons, and for the reasons so lucidly set down in the lead judgment that I too would allow this appeal. The appeal is allowed I abide by all the orders of my learned brother, Obaseki, J. S. C.

UWAIS, J.S.C. -I had a preview of the judgment read by my learned brother Obaseki, J.S.C. I entirely agree with the reasoning and conclusion therein. I too will allow the appeal.

The respondent - the University of Maiduguri is a creature of statute, namely the University of Maiduguri Act, 1979 (No. 83 of 1979). The power to discipline its students for acts of misconduct is vested in the Vice-Chancellor of the University by virtue of Section 17 of the Act The section reads:

"(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where it appears to the Vice-Chancellor that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct, the Vice-Chancellor may, without prejudice to any other disciplinary powers conferred on him by statute or regulations, direct

(a) that the student shall not, during such period as may be specified in the direction, participate in such activities of the University, or make use of such facilities of the University, as may be so specified: or

(b) that the student be rusticated for such period as may be specified in the direction; or

(c) that the student be rusticated for such period as may be specified in the direction; or

(d) that the student be expelled from the University.

(2) Where a direction is given under subsection (1)(c) or (d) above in respect of any student, the student may, within the prescribed period and in the prescribed manner, appeal from the direction to the council; and where such an appeal is brought, the council shall, after causing such inquiry to be made in the matters as the council considers just, either confirm or set aside the direction or modify it in such manner as the council thinks fit.

(3) The fact that an appeal from a direction is brought in pursuance of the last foregoing subsection shall not affect the question of the direction while the appeal is pending.

(4) The Vice-Chancellor may delegate his powers under this section to a disciplinary board consisting of such members of the University as he may nominate.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing the restriction or termination of a student's activities at the University otherwise than on the ground of misconduct.

(6) It is hereby declared that a direction under subsection (1)(a) above may be combined with a direction under subsection (1)(b) above. "

From the foregoing it is clear that the Vice-Chancellor has wide powers to deal with any misconduct by students. These powers may be exercised by the Vice-Chancellor himself, or be delegated by him to a disciplinary board of the University. One of the questions to be determined in this appeal is whether in the exercise of the disciplinary powers the Vice-Chancellor or a Disciplinary Board is bound to observe the rules of natural justice as entrenched in the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the fabric "Fundamental Rights". We are here concerned in particular with the provisions of section 33 subsection (1) thereof which states:

In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality. "

The powers exercisable under Section 17 of the Act are similar to those vested in the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee by Section 10 of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1975. They include the power to restrict, suspend or rusticate students. Therefore, when the Vice Chancellor or the Disciplinary Board acts under Section 17, he or it operates as a tribunal and the provisions of section 33 subsection (1) of the Constitution apply to him or it - see His Highness Oba Adeyemi & Ors. v. A.G. of Oyo State & Ors. (1984) 1 SCNLR 525 and Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (1985) 2 NWLR 300.

Now the type of misconduct that can be dealt with under that section of the University of Maiduguri Act has not been defined by the Act, but it is a notorious fact that in any University community, students are apt to commit and often do commit offences. Such offences, though criminal in nature, can also pass as misconduct in the context of Section 17. The difference, therefore, between acts of misconduct which can, on one hand, be regarded as purely within the domestic affair of a University and therefore not calling for prosecution in a court of law and, on the other hand, crime against the public, which should be prosecuted, is indeed very difficult to discern.

When the Vice-Chancellor or the Disciplinary Board comes to consider the sanction to be imposed under Section 17 he or it will, as a tribunal, be acting quasi-judicial because the power to restrict, suspend, rusticate or expel a student under paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of subsection (1) of Section 17 are very fundamental to the student concerned - see Glynn v. Keele University, (1971) 2 All E.R. 89 at p. 96. It, therefore, becomes necessary for the Vice-Chancellor or the Disciplinary Board to observe the rules of natural justice - Dr O.G. Sofekun v. N.O.A. Akinyemi (1980) 5-7 SC. 1 at p. 18 and Glynn's case (supra).

In his words -Judicial Review of Administrative Action, 3rd edition, Professor S. A. de Smith whilst alluding to the decisions in Glynn's case (supra) and Ceylon University v. Fernando (1960) 1 WLR 223, observed on page 199 that:

"It is now clear that disciplinary proceedings in higher educational institutions have to be conducted III conformity with natural justice provided at least that the penalty imposed or liable to be imposed is severe".

Now from the facts of the present case, which have been ably and adequately set out in the judgment of my learned brother Obaseki, J.S.C., it is very clear that the appellants were charged with very serious offences of arson, theft and indecent assault. These are offences that should have been referred to the Police for prosecution in a court of law, as was done in Kayode Adams v. D.P.P. of the Federation (1966) N.M.L.R. 111 and Adeyinka Albert Laoye v. The State (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. 832. However, this was not done and instead the Vice-Chancellor referred the case to 4 Investigation Panels and a Disciplinary Investigation Board. The appellants appeared before the Disciplinary Investigation Board. Although their evidence was heard, they were not allowed to cross-examine any of the witnesses that appeared before the Board and their request to call witnesses in their defence was not granted. The Disciplinary Investigation Board recommended at the end of its investigation that the appellants should be expelled from the University. The Vice-Chancellor on the advice of the Senate of the University accepted he accordingly expelled the recommendation and the appellants.

There can be no doubt that the Disciplinary Investigation Board did not give the appellants a fair hearing. And by so failing to do the provisions of Section 33 subsection (1) of the Constitution had been violated. The appellants were right therefore in seeking redress against the University in the Borno State High Court, and that Court has jurisdiction to entertain the action brought before it. For Section 42 of the 1979 Constitution provides in subsections (1) and (2) as follows:

(1) Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a High Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made to it in pursuance of the provision of this section and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement within that State of any rights to which the person who makes the application may be entitled under this Chapter. "

Finally, I think it is important that students should make the point that by the decision in this case we are not condoning the gross misconduct committed by the students of the University of Maiduguri; nor are we curtailing the powers of the Vice-Chancellor to deal effectively with any misbehaviour. Rather, we are stressing that in dealing with misconduct by students, the proper procedure ought to be followed with due regard to the provisions of the Constitution. If students commit serious criminal offences within University campuses, as in the present case, Vice-Chancellors or the Disciplinary Boards should not feel restrained or reluctant to report the improper conduct to law enforcement agencies. Crimes committed, even within the walls of the campuses, are crimes against the public at large. No citizen is above the law and students should be made to understand that. It has long since been the view of this Court that where a person is accused of committing a criminal offence, he must be taken before a court of law for trial and not merely be dealt with by a tribunal - see Dr E.O. Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) 1 All N.L.R. 306 at p. 311 and Dr O. G. Sofekun's case (supra) at p. 17. However, this does not mean that every trivial or minor offence committed by students becomes the subject of prosecution in a court of law. It is the responsibility of the Vice-Chancellor, in the exercise of his powers under Section 17, to distinguish between serious and minor acts of misconduct which have given rise to serious or minor criminal offences.

It is for these and the reasons fully given in the judgment of my learned brother, Obaseki, J.S.C. that I agree that this appeal succeeds and that it should be allowed. I endorse the orders contained in the said judgment.

COKER, J.S.C.-I agree with the judgment just delivered by Obaseki, J.S.C. the draft of which I have the advantage of reading before now. I agree that this appeal succeeds and that the judgment of the court below be set aside and the decision of the trial court restored.

The facts and issues in the appeal have been elaborately stated in the lead judgment of my learned brother, Obaseki, J.S.C. and it is therefore not necessary to repeat them. There are however some few points in the lead judgment which for sake of emphasis I wish to comment on.

It is not disputed that the appellants were never formally notified of the various charges, namely malicious and wanton destruction and looting of properties belonging to the University and some of its principal officers, besides rioting and indecent behaviour against some female students of the University. While it is true that the appellants and some other students were invited and heard by the Disciplinary Investigating Panel, the appellants were never informed of any act of misconduct which might lead to their expulsion from the University. They were not present to hear or cross-examine any of the witnesses who gave evidence against them nor had they the opportunity to challenge such witnesses. In short, they were expelled for alleged offences which were never brought to their notice and which they were never afforded the opportunity of defending.

That they are entitled to know the charges preferred against them and that they ought to have a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves is beyond doubt. These are constitutional rights enshrined in the Constitution of this Country, vide Section 33(1) and (4) of the 1979 Constitution of the Federation of Nigeria. I agree that the proceedings before the Disciplinary Investigation Board as constituted which included the Vice Chancellor and his deputy cannot be an impartial tribunal as contemplated in sub-section 4 of Section 33 or that the procedure adopted by the Board accorded with the principles of fair hearing. The Vice-Chancellor's powers under Section 17(1) of the University of Maiduguri Act to appoint Investigation Panel are necessary for the maintenance of discipline within the student members of the University; but in the exercise of the powers conferred on him in so far as they affect the rights of any student member, the Disciplinary Investigating Board must scrupulously ensure that the affected students have a fair hearing of the offence alleged and that in its deliberations, no reasonable trace of bias is shown. It is my considered view that after the Disciplinary Investigation Panel had completed its investigation, each of such students against who disciplinary action was contemplated must be informed of the available evidence against him and in addition given reasonable opportunity of exculpating himself. It is essential that in the exercise, the Vice Chancellor must observe the principles of impartiality and fairness.

In view of the seriousness of the criminal offences with which the students were accused namely arson, theft and in descent assault, it became necessary that an independent body or tribunal should be involved in the trial of the affected students. See Dr O.M. Alakija v. The Medical Disciplinary Committee (1959) IV F.S.C. 38. The Vice Chancellor and his deputy cannot on the facts be said to be impartial arbiters. It would have been a proper case for him to delegate his powers as provided in sub-section 4 or S. 17. Particularly, because the victims of the alleged offences were the University itself and some of its principal officers - Vice-Chancellor and his deputies. They ought not to be the accusers and the judges. The principle is clear that no man should be a judge in his own cause. Further, it was clear breach of principle of natural justice the procedure adopted by the Disciplinary Investigation Board on the receipt of the Report of the Investigating Panel. The affected students should have been informed of the evidence of their involvement in the rampage and given the opportunity to exculpating themselves. There was nothing of the sort throughout the proceedings, which led to their expulsion. In the circumstance, it was right for them to seek redress as provided in Section 42 of the Constitution which reads:-

"42 (1) Any person who alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being or likely to be contravened in any State in relation to him may apply to a High Court in that State for redress.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, a High Court shall have original jurisdiction to hear and determine any application made to it in pursuance of the provisions of this section and may make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing or securing the enforcement within that State of any rights to which the person who makes the application may be entitled under this Chapter.

It has been argued by Chief Williams that the right of the students vis-'E0-vis the University is of a contractual nature and therefore an internal matter for the Visitor. With respect, I beg to differ. I find myself unable to accept this submission. The relationship is statutory - and not contractual. See Section 2(i) of the Decree. The offences with which the appellants were accused are grave and punishable under the law with terms of imprisonment. Such conviction is capable of affecting their reputation adversely. To be expelled from the University on grounds of such serious criminal offences justifies the demand for a fair hearing before a court or tribunal as provided in Section 6 and 33(4) of the Constitution. I find support for this view in the many decisions of this court including Dr O.G. Sofekun v. Chief N.O.A. Akinyemi (1981) 1 All N.L.R 306. Dr Denloye v. Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) 1 All N.L.R. 306. But Section 33 (4) of the Constitution speaks of 'fair hearing within a reasonable time by a Court or Tribunal'. If the essential of the principles of natural justice, that is, tribunal duly constituted by independent persons and adopting such procedure which assures the affected students a fair hearing had been observed, it seems arguable whether the proceedings of such a body would have been open to attack as in this case, where the Disciplinary Investigation Board of the Senate of which the Vice-Chancellor and his deputies were members and victims of the rampage made the findings against the students. I am not suggesting that they Vice-Chancellor cannot take decision by himself or with or without advice. But any charges against the students must be brought home to them and they ought to be given reasonable opportunity of a fair hearing before any disciplinary decision was taken against them.

What if the misconduct committed by the student is of a criminal nature and for which after due prosecution in a court of law the student besides the apparent criminal nature constituted insubordination or willful disobedience to some Regulation of the University or some lawful order or instruction? Would the Vice-Chancellor be inhibited from taking disciplinary action against such a student? What if, for instance, the prosecution failed because the prosecutor refused to summon necessary witnesses to testify at the trial or if a vital witness was deliberately not called or could not be found or refused to attend even though summoned? Yet the Vice Chancellor has before him credible evidence which seems to him to justify disciplinary action against the erring student? These are areas in which the present decisions of this court one day may call for reconsideration. I can envisage such independent tribunal duly constituted by the Vice Chancellor, in such manner that all the essentials of the principles of justice are present to investigate and determine alleged serious misconduct of students and which for good reasons, the Vice Chancellor considers it expedient should not be criminally prosecuted.

What will be the position of a student who is alleged to have committed serious criminal misconduct which case was reported to the police and no prosecution taken against the student for some reasons best known to the police or to the Attorney-General himself or officers of his department? Should the Vice Chancellor undertake criminal prosecution himself or should he fold his arms and allow the students to remain in the University undisciplined?

I share the view that the position and functions of the Visitor are clearly spelt in Section 13(2) and (3) of the University Act, and do not include discipline of students, which are conferred by Section 17 only on the Vice Chancellor, who is empowered to delegate his powers under the section to a disciplinary board consisting of such members of the University as he may nominate. The submission of Chief Williams to the effect that the Visitor is the final repository of discipline powers of the University is therefore untenable.

In the result for these and other reasons stated in the lead judgment, I will allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the court below and adopt the orders made by Obaseki, J.S.C.

KAWU, J.S.C.-I have read in draft the judgment which has just been delivered by my learned brother, Obaseki, J.S.C. I agree entirely with the reasoning and conclusion reached by my learned brother and I have nothing useful to add to the judgment. I agree that the appeal should be allowed, and is hereby allowed. I abide by all orders made inclusive of the order as to costs in the lead judgment.

OPUTA, J.S.C.-I have had the advantage of a preview in draft of the lead judgment just delivered by my learned brother Obaseki, J.S.C. I am in full agreement with him that this appeal should be allowed on the ground that somewhere along the line there had been a breach of the Rules of Natural Justice and the rights of the Appellants to a fair hearing before the Disciplinary Investigation Panel (D.I.P. for short). As the surrounding circumstances of this case raise very serious and grave issues of discipline in our institutions of higher learning and equally fundamental issues of the dictates of eternal justice in the form of fair hearing, I will like to add my own observations and comments in amplification and support of those ably made in the lead judgment.

It is not in dispute that on the 2nd February 1983 there was a student uprising in the University of Maiduguri The students went on a rampage. There was wanton destruction of properties, there was arson, there was looting, there was indecent assault and suspected rape. This is a sorry catalogue of very serious criminal offences with which University students - our future leaders - should not be involved at all. No word from this Court will be too strong to condemn and deprecate this misconduct and lawlessness. They run counter to the letter and spirit of our current war against indiscipline. Students may have their grievances and it is part of the discipline of their University training to use only legal means to secure redress. This they failed to do. The students were wrong, very wrong, to have gone on a rampage. The Vice Chancellor and the University Authorities have a right and a duty to restore order and discipline, using all the legal means at their disposal. As the students were wrong in going on a rampage, the University Authorities will on their own part be wrong in using means other than those allowed them by law in dealing with the disturbance. Two wrongs, they say, do not make one right.

The power to discipline erring students is conferred on the Vice Chancellor by S. 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act No. 83 of 1979. How the Vice Chancellor decides to exercise that power will determine whether or not the courts should intervene. It is here that one has to look more critically at Section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act

No. 83 of 1979 dealing with Discipline of Students. It stipulates:

"S. 17 (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where it appears to the Vice Chancellor that any student of the University has been guilty of misconduct, the Vice Chancellor may, without prejudice to any other disciplinary powers conferred on him by statute or regulations, direct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(d) that the student be expelled from the University."

The question now is - when and how will it appear to the Vice Chancellor that a student is guilty of misconduct? My answer to the above question is that:-

(i) It can appear to the Vice Chancellor from his own personal knowledge.

Let us take the example given by Chief Williams, S.A.N., of a student slapping a Vice Chancellor - there it would be obviously apparent to any reasonable person that such a student is guilty of misconduct. There, again, it will appear to the Vice Chancellor from his own personal knowledge and experience of what the student did. Here the courts may not intervene and here also Section 33 of the 1979 Constitution may not successfully be invoked.

(ii) It might appear to the Vice Chancellor from the report of an Investigation Panel or Board set up to probe the alleged misconduct.

This was what happened in this case. In such circumstances where the Vice-Chancellor is to rely on the recommendations of a Board, it is necessary to ensure that the misconduct is one which the Board can safely handle without derogating from or else usurping indirectly, the judicial functions of the courts of law. In such circumstances again that Board, since it is now performing a quasi judicial function, should, like Caesar's wife, be above any suspicion of bias, and do away with anything and everything which might engender suspicion and distrust of the Board and so promote a feeling of reasonable confidence in those to be affected by its finding. Also the Board should give to each person being probed what in law amounts to a fair hearing.

(iii) It can appear to the Vice Chancellor from the record of a court of competent Jurisdiction convicting the student of a criminal offence which then compromises the position of such a student as a worthy member of the University community.

The point being made here is that Section 17 of the University of Maiduguri Act 1979 did not restrict the Vice Chancellor on how "it will appear to him" that a student is guilty of misconduct. That was left entirely to the Vice-Chancellor's own assessment and there was no limitation as to the materials on which he was to base his judgment or the contacts which he might wish to make. This situation is similar to what happened in Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro v. Chief S.L Akintola & Anor. (1963) 3 W.L.R. 63: (1962) 1 All N.L.R. 465. I agree with Chief Williams that It is not in every case of discipline that a student may successfully invoke the protection of Section 33 of the 1979 Constitution and the Rules of Natural Justice. Much will depend on how the Vice Chancellor himself approached the matter.

This now calls into question the means used by the University of Maiduguri Authorities to deal with the Appellants. It is common ground that not all the student population of 4,000 went on this rampage and committed the offences mentioned earlier on. Only abut 500 students took part in the rampage. How does one identify those who took part? That is the most vital issue in this case. If the "culprits" were sufficiently and satisfactorily identified, there is no doubt, whatsoever, that the Vice Chancellor has a legal right and a duty under Section 17 (1)(d) of the University of Maiduguri Act No. 83 of 1979 to direct that such "culprits" be expelled from the University. Chief Williams, S.A.N. for the Respondent during his oral argument gave an illustration which seems to hold the key to the solution of the present riddle. He asked - "If a student slaps the Vice Chancellor, can the Vice Chancellor not invoke his disciplinary power under Section 17 (1)(d) and expel him? OR will such a student invoke the aid of Section 33 of the 1979 Constitution enshrining the Right to fair hearing?" My hypothetical answer to this equally hypothetical question is - surely the Vice Chancellor in those circumstances can expel the offending student and the provisions of Section 33 will not be available to such a student. But the difference, between Chief Williams' illustration and this case on appeal, is what in the former instance there was no dispute about the identity of the offending student whereas in the latter the Vice Chancellor did not know those who really and actually took part in the rampage; in one the 'culprit' was caught flagrante delicto, in the other the Vice Chancellor had to set up a Disciplinary Investigation Panel (or Board) with the following (inter alia) as its terms of reference:-

(a). ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(b) To identify the principal organisers and perpetrators of the disturbances.

(c) To identify those who in any way at all participated in the disturbances.

(d) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(h) To apportion blame to give credit as the case may be to all individuals concerned and in the former case to recommend disciplinary measures to be taken against the 'culprits'.

In other words, the Disciplinary Investigation Panel was the body set up to find out who the "culprits" were and advise the Vice Chancellor. Acting on the advice of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel, the Vice Chancellor may then direct that the "culprits" be expelled. Does it not follow that, if there is any breach of Rules of natural justice in the conduct of its investigation by the Disciplinary Investigation Panel, that will naturally affect any action of the Vice Chancellor based on those recommendations (of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel)?

What then is the meaning of the expression "culprits" used in paragraph (h) of the D.I.P.'s terms of reference? Earl Jowitt in "The Dictionary of English Law" 1959 ed. page 549 defines culprit as:

"the prisoner at the bar awaiting his trial after a plea of not guilty"

The Lexicon Webster Dictionary, Encyclopedic Edition Part 1 at page 215 defines culprit as-

"a person arraigned for an offence, hence one guilty of an offence or fault, an offender."

The Disciplinary Investigation Panel under paragraph (h) of its terms of reference was to recommend disciplinary measures to be taken against the "culprits" or the offenders who committed the arson, the Malicious Damage to the University properties and the Indecent Assault. The question now arises - Has the Disciplinary Investigation Panel the necessary jurisdiction to try criminal cases of Arson, Malicious Damage and Indecent Assault? The answer is No. In Dr E.O.A. Denloye v. Medical & Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (1968) 1 All, N.L.R. 306 at p. 312 this Court held that "where the professional conduct of a practitioner amounts to a crime, it is a matter for the courts to deal with an once the court has found the practitioner guilty of an offence, if it comes within the type of cases referred to in Section 13 (1)(b), then the Tribunal may proceed to deal with him under the Act". Also in Dr O.G. Sofekun v. Chief N.O.A. Akinyemi (1981) 1 N.C.L.R. 135 this Court again held that:

"By virtue of Section 22 (2) of the 1963 Constitution, once a person is accused of a criminal offence, he must be tried in a Court of Law where the complaint of his accusers can be ventilated in public and where he would be sure of getting a fair hearing as set out in subsection (4)-(10) of Section 22 of the Constitution. No other Tribunal, Investigating Panel or Committee will do. "

Now Section 22 (2) of the 1963 Constitution is identical in terms and purpose with S. 33 (4) of the 1979 Constitution. Following the decision of this Court in Sofekun's case supra, the Disciplinary Investigation Panel appointed by the Vice Chancellor is not competent to apportion "blame or recommend disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits' since that will amount to the Panel trying criminal cases. The decision whether or not the Appellants were culprits - that is guilty of the criminal offences alleged against them would not have to be made by any Committee or Tribunal or Investigating Panel or Board. It has to be made by a Court of Law properly so called. It is when that Court of Law has found the Appellants guilty that the Vice Chancellor can then act under Section 17 (1)(d). Then it would appear unmistakably to the Vice Chancellor that the Appellants have been guilty of misconduct and then but not until then can the Vice Chancellor direct that the Appellants be expelled under Section 17 (1)(d) of Act no. 83 of 1979. This will accord with the decision of this Court in Dr Denloye's case supra.

How does one classify the Disciplinary Investigation Panel or Board in this case? If it is not a Court of law properly so called, was it then bound to observe the rules of natural justice? And what are those rules? There are two rules which form the twin pillars of Natural Justice. They are Impartiality and Fairness. Let me deal first with the right to be heard - the Right to fair hearing. At pages 218/219 of the Record, Nasir, P. in his lead judgment in the court below observed:-

"During the investigation, the Panel interviewed 104 witnesses which included 76 students, 25 staff and 3 others who were not staff of the University. The students interviewed included the Respondents in this appeal, the key planners of the disturbances and some others who took part in the disturbances. At the end of its investigation, the Disciplinary Investigation Board submitted its report to the Vice Chancellor."

Needless to say that the Vice Chancellor accepted the report and acted on it. The result was the expulsion of the Appellants in this Court and Respondents in the court below.

The question that now arises is - Were the Appellants heard by the Disciplinary Investigation Panel? In other words, what does it mean to be heard in this context? Does interviewing the Appellants or calling them as witnesses before the Panel constitute the type of hearing envisaged by the Rules relating to Fair hearing be they under the Rules of Natural Justice or under Section 33 of the 1979 Constitution? The court below per Nasir, P. seems to say yes. For at p. 224 of the Record, he observed:

"It was also accepted that the Vice Chancellor had set up a Disciplianry Investigation Board. It was not in dispute that each of the Respondents was summoned before the Investigation Board. It was also agreed on both sides that in addition to the Respondents other students and staff of the University gave evidence before the Board."

And at p. 233, the learned President of the Court below continued:

"The Respondents in this appeal have been given a chance to explain their own side of the story. There's no such requirement of cross examination or of knowing the witnesses in order to comply with the principle of natural justice as to fair hearing."

With the greatest respect, I find myself unable to agree with the above views of the learned President. The courts have always drawn the vital and necessary difference and distinction between hearing a man as a witness in an administrative inquiry and hearing him in defence of his good name, his integrity or his conduct: See Olaniyan v. University of Lagos (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. 599 at p. 623.

Supporters of the views expressed above by the learned President the Court of Appeal often contend that these Administrative Boards of Inquiry are merely fact finding Boards and that their investigations do not constitute a trial. At this stage, it may be revealing and relevant to reproduce paragraphs 3 and 11 of the Counter Affidavit of Abubakar S. Childe, Principal Assistant Registrar (Student Affairs) University of Maiduguri:

"8. That the contents of paragraphs 9 and 10 of the applicants' affidavit are not true as the Panel gave the applicants opportunity of being heard and the applicants did not at anytime request to recall any witness or witnesses. Furthermore the Panel was not set up to try any particular person but to find out the remote and immediate causes of the wanton destruction of property by the students and recommend appropriate disciplinary measures.

11. That to the best of my knowledge and belief, although the Panel was to and could not be a Court of law, or police investigating body the procedures adopted by the Panel in carrying out its investigations aimed at justice and fair play and the Panel strictly acted within the frame of its terms of reference."

There is a little inconsistency in the two paragraphs quoted above regarding the status and the role of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel. If "it was not set up to try any particular person" how then did it come to the conclusion that the Appellants were "the key planners of the rampage" and that "they participated in the rampage?" If the Panel was not set up to try any particular person" how could the Panel have recommended the expulsion of the Appellants whom it did not try? But the fact is that the Terms of Reference of the Disciplinary investigation Panel included inter alia:

"(b) To identify the principal organisers.

(c) To identify all those who in any way at all participated in the disturbances.

(h) . . . to recommend suitable disciplinary measures to be taken against the culprits."

Whether it likes it or not the panel was to reach a decision on the three issues raised above. How would the Panel do that without some sort of trial?

What then is a trial? A trial is merely the finding out by due examination of witnesses or documents or both, the truth of a point in issue of a question in dispute whereupon a finding is made or judgment is given - (Co. Litt. 124B) reproduced by Earl Jowitt in The Dictionary of English Law 2nd impress (1965) 1959 Ed. p. 1780. A trial is a step in an action, prosecution or other judicial proceeding by which the questions of fact in issue are decided. When therefore the issue is who were those who went on a rampage at the University of Maiduguri on the 2nd of February 1983 and committed arson, malicious damage and indecent assault, the Disciplinary Investigation Panel must have to conduct some form of trial to arrive at the answer that the Appellants were the culprits. If not, then one arrives at the rather awkward situation of finding "a witness" guilty of the offences alleged. A witness may be found guilty of perjury if he lies; he may be believed, or disbelieved, as the case may be; but the central issue is liability or guilt does not attach to witnesses. So if in this case, the Disciplinary Investigation Panel regarded the Appellants merely and solely as witnesses, they were wrong in their finding that the Appellants were the culprits and in recommending disciplinary measures against them. This is one way of looking at the matter.

Another but related view is that fair hearing (even in an Administrative Board or a Disciplinary Investigation Panel as the one set up by the Vice Chancellor in this case) implies the right in the Appellants to know what and what were being alleged against them; what evidence has been given; and what statements had been made affecting them; and they must be given a fair opportunity to correct and contradict such evidence. It also follows that the Panel must not hear evidence, or receive representation, behind their backs. The case that brings out these points very clearly is the case of Kanda v. Government of Malaya (1962) AC 332. The facts of Kanda's case bear some resemblance with the facts of the present case now on appeal. In July 1958, the Commissioner of Police Malaya purported to dismiss Kanda (as the Vice Chancellor here purported to expel the Appellants) on the ground that at an inquiry before an adjudicating officer (in this case an inquiry before an adjudicating officer (in this case an inquiry before the Disciplinary Investigation Panel) Kanda had been found guilty (just as the Appellants have here been found guilty and branded culprits). In Kanda'a case, there was failure to supply him with a copy of the report of the Board of Inquiry which contained matter highly prejudical to him and which had been sent to and read by the adjudicating officer before he sat to inquire into the charge against Kanda. It was held that this failure amounted to a failure to afford Kanda 'a reasonable opportunity of being heard'. Lord Denning at p. 337 expatiated on the content of the Right to be heard or the right of fair hearing: "If the right to be heard is to be a real right which is worth anything, it must carry with it a right in the accused man to know the case which is being made against him. He must know what evidence had been given and what statements have been made affecting him; and then he must be given a fair opportunity to correct or contradict them. If follows, of course, that the judge or whoever has to adjudicate must not hear evidence or receive representations from one side behind the back of the other. The court will not inquire whether the evidence or representation did work to his prejudice. Sufficient that they might do so. . . The risk of it is enough."

At page 338 the Master of the Rolls concluded:

"Applying these principles, their Lordships are of opinion that Inspector Kanda was not in this case given a reasonable opportunity of being heard."

It is my humble view that fair hearing implies much more than hearing the Appellants testifying before the Disciplinary Investigation panel; it implies much more than other Staff or Students testifying before the Panel behind the backs of the Appellants, it implies much more than the Appellants being "given a chance to explain their own side of the story." To constitute a fair hearing whether it be before the regular Courts or before Tribunals and Boards of Inquiry, the person accused would know what is alleged against him; he should be present when any evidence against him is tendered; and he should be given a fair opportunity to correct or contradict such evidence. How else is this done, it be not by cross-examination? If these Tribunal or Boards, or Panels know that they cannot do all these, then, they should leave these trials to the law courts. In paragraph 11 of his Counter Affidavit quoted above, the Principal Assistant Registrar (Student Affairs) University of Maiduguri deposed that "the procedure adopted by the Panel in carrying out its investigation aimed at justice and fair play." It is one thing to "aim at" but it is an entirely different thing to succeed in hitting the target. With the best intentions in the world, the Panel missed the target of each of the twin pillars of natural justice which in our special circumstance is not only a common law requirement but also a constitutional right guaranteed to the Appellants by Section 33 (1) and (4) of the 1979 Constitution.

What I have said above presupposes that the Board or Tribunal of Inquiry can even inquire into the allegations. Where, as in this case, the allegations made against the Appellants amount to the commission of criminal offences, then the Boards or Tribunals are out and the case should be referred to the Courts of Law. The proceedings before the Disciplinary Investigation Panel in this case are vitiated from two angles. Firstly the Panel lacked the constitutional and legal competence to undertake the inquiry and arrive at a conclusion that the Appellants were the culprits in serious criminal offences of Arson, Malicious Damage and Indecent Assault. Secondly the incompetent inquiry which it conducted was further vitiated by its failure to accord the appellants fair hearing either under the rules of natural justice or under the provisions of Section 33 of the 1979 Constitution.

There is another pillar of natural justice which was also rudely shaken in this case. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel were themselves victims of the arson and malicious damage which followed in the wake of the rampage. They have to be super human to be able to obliterate from their minds their personal plights and to be able to approach their assignment with the Impartiality, objectivity and fairness required of those acting in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity. Even If they achieved this extraordinary feat, the appearance of justice having been done by the Panel will be seriously compromised. It will ever remain a matter of grave concern in the minds of the Appellants and ordinary citizens whether they, the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel, were not biased, for as Lord Hewart, C.J. emphasized "justice must not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done:" - R. v. Sussex Justices ex parte McCarthy (1924) 1 K.B. 256 at p. 259. Justice must be rooted in confidence and that confidence is destroyed when right-thinking people go away thinking that the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel were biased: Metropolitan Properties Co. (FGC) Ltd. v. Lannon (1968) 3 All E.R. 304 at p. 310. See also Oyelade v. Araoye and A.G. of Western Nigeria (1968) N.M.L.R. 44 at p. 47. Oyelade's case supra is an authority for the proposition that the standard of impartiality required of full time judges is the same as those required of persons who adjudicate in Administrative Boards (like the Disciplinary Investigation Board) entrusted, may be not with a final decision but all the same with some decision albeit preliminary: Pearlberg v. Varty (1972) 1 A.L.R. 534 at pp. 540/547.

The next question that naturally arises is - Can the expulsion of the Appellants in the surrounding circumstances of this case be allowed to stand? The Vice Chancellor acted principally on the recommendations of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel which identified the Appellants not only as "the principal organisers and perpetrators of the Students uprising of 2nd February 1983' but also certified them as "the culprits" and recommended disciplinary measures against them in the form of expulsion. Now the Disciplinary Investigation Panel has been successfully attacked and vanquished on all the three counts, namely:

(i) that it had no constitutional and legal competence to try criminal cases,

(ii) that even if it had the competence (which it had not) it did not give the Appellants any fair hearing;

(iii) that its findings (of the D.I.P.) must of necessity be voided on the ground of the possibility of bias on the part of its Chairman and Vice Chairman.

The direction of the Vice Chancellor that the Appellants be expelled based on the recommendations of the Disciplinary Investigation Panel which have now collapsed has no longer any legs of its own on which to stand. It too, is therefore bound to fail. The expulsion order against the Appellants will have to be revoked and it is hereby revoked.

The 3rd Claim of the Appellants in the court of first instances was:

"(c) An interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondent, his servant and/or agent from interfering with the aforesaid rights of the applicants pending the determination of this suit and readmitting the applicants to the University pending the determination of this action."

The High Court - the court of first instance - granted the Appellants' claims in their entirety. The Court of Appeal dismissed same also in their entirety. What will this court do? In L.A. Lawson v. Local Authority Aba (1944) 10 W.A.C.A. 28 at p. 229 the court held that the proceedings were vitiated by the fact that the same person was both prosecutor and judge. This offended against the rules of natural justice. There the appeal was allowed and the Appellant was acquitted and discharged. He was not sent to be retried properly. Also in Dr Alakija v. The Medical Disciplinary Committee (1959) 4 F.S.C 38 at p. 39, it was held that the proceedings of the Committee offended the principles of natural justice in that the Registrar (though he did not take part in the deliberations) was present and his mere presence thereat offended against the principles of natural justice. The decision of the Committee was upset. In Dr E.O.A. Denloye v. Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Committee supra this Court held that it was unable to support the decision of the Tribunal and it must be set aside. The order or direction striking the name of the Appellant off the Medical Register was "hereby quashed and set aside". Dr Denloye was not sent back to be properly tried.

In the recent case of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. Part 7300 at p. 337 this Court dismissed the appeal of the Legal practitioners Disciplinary Committee, affirmed the judgment and order for the Court of Appeal. That order merely excluded some members of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee who might reasonably be held tainted with bias from sitting in the Committee. In Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) 2 N. W.L.R. (Part 9) 599 at p. 632 the Appellants were restored to their posts in the University of Lagos because they claimed that relief in the court of first instance. In this case, the relief claimed as stated there was:- "Re-admitting the applicants to the University pending the determination of this action". It was a relief contingent on "the determination of the action". The action has now been finally determined and the re-admission of the Appellants pending the determination of the action is now a non-issue.

In the final result and for all the reasons given above, and also for the fuller reasons in the lead judgment of my learned brother Obaseki J.S.C. with which I am in complete agreement (and which I now adopt as mine) I too will allow the appeal and adopt all the consequential orders made in the lead judgment.

Counsels

No Counsels for both the Appellants and the Respondents