Civil Law Court “B” Judge Johannes Z. Zlahn says it would be premature to order expelled student Alvin C. Wesseh’s reinstatement at the state-run University of Liberia or UL without exhausting available administrative remedies, and has therefore, sent the case back to the university for “further consideration.”
The due process which must afford student Wesseh opportunity to challenge his charges and produce witnesses has to be applied within 10 days as per the court’s instruction, and he may follow procedures laid down in the student handbook regarding further taking his grievances to the Ethics Committee and other administrative organs in the case where he feels dissatisfied by whatever decision at the UL.
The court said it was unable to decide … because UL did not produce evidence to prove how student Wesseh was afforded due process before his expulsion; and it also found that petitioner Wesseh did not exhaust available administrative remedies before seeking declaratory judgment in court.
Judge Zlahn wondered how Student Wesseh expected his grievances to be heard at the various offices with whom he had complained when he took the matter to court at the same time. Student Wesseh filed the petition with the court after his expulsion by the UL administration over claims that he led series of protests on campus that resulted to destruction of properties and disruption of classes.
But he denied the claims and argued that he never headed any group nor did he ever partake in campus-based protests. Rather, he says he was not accorded due process before being expelled, and the court agreed with him on grounds that the university did not produce such evidence during the hearing of the case.
In applying the due process, the court said the UL should have given Wesseh written notice concerning his alleged action, giving the gravity of said allegation, and to have afforded him a full hearing in which he should have been represented by lawyer to counter his charge and produce witnesses, among others.
The court said though Student Wesseh denied his involvement in protests and destruction of properties at UL, it however said it was in agreement with the UL that in the exercise of student rights, the student must not be allowed to violate other students’ rights and destroy properties.
Meanwhile, the court saw as necessary the student’s action to seek court intervention because Judge Zlahn says the failure of courts to hear and pass on students’ grievances could result to violence once they feel they will have nowhere to challenge administration’s decisions against them.
The Counsel representing UL took exception against the judge’s ruling, and matter is suspended.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne