The Justice for Jane Project
Jane Ihuoma Ottah is deaf! She scored one distinction and seven credits in the June 2012 West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exams and a score of 205 in the Joint Matriculation Examination (JME). Jane gained admission in 2014 to the school of her first choice, Rivers State University of Science and Technology to study Educational Foundations. During only the first semester of her 100 Level (i.e. freshman year), she was “deregistered” on the order of the Vice Chancellor for her deafness. Prior, she had been fulfilling expected standards of academic performance to continue with her studies at the university.
The university authorities neither demonstrated the intellectual curiosity, nor the effort, to find out how she had been coping with the rigors of academic life or how they might assist in furthering her academic progress and aid her aspiration to become a contributing citizen of Nigeria. She was simply asked to leave, because according to them:
Their team of medical personnel found it impossible to communicate with her; and
The university does not have special communication facilities.
This denial of critical, life-changing opportunity for Jane because of her disability perpetuates the exclusion of Deaf Nigerians from society and prevents them from contributing fully to the development of Nigeria. Jane's intention is not to surrender to the kind of ignorance which will condemn her to a lifetime of poverty and frustration due to being denied the right she has earned on merit, to pursue her academic career to the best of her ability. Jane aspires to be a university lecturer one day, and train young Nigerians up. In this, she would be following in the footsteps of eminent deaf Nigerians like the late Dr. Peter O. Mba and Dr. Eunice Alade, both of whom taught at the University of Ibadan; the late Mr. Pius Swem and the late Dr. Emmanuel Ojile, who taught at the University of Jos; and many others who teach in universities abroad.
STANDU, Inc. retained Rotimi Oguneso, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), with him, Sale Sule, Esq. of the chambers of Abdullahi Ibrahim & Co.; Olumide Ekisola of Adejumo, Ekisola and Ezeani; and ‘Supo Adebayo of Bayview & Sheppard, Barristers & Solicitors as counsel to represent Ms. Ottah on a pro bono (free) basis in a suit before the Honorable Justice S. O. Iragumina of the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt.
STANDU, Inc. covered the entire expense of round trip air travel (Abuja to Port Harcourt), accommodation and meals for all counsel representing Jane throughout this case through the instrumentality of a "Justice For Jane" appeal which raised in excess of N600,000.
On Tuesday July 19, 2016, the case of Jane Ottah v. Rivers State University of Science and Technology came up at the Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt for the parties to adopt settlement terms essentially returning Jane to school and committing the University to support her academically.
O.J Irerhime of Thompson Okpoko & Partners, a Port Harcourt law firm; Professor 'Dejo Olowu, Dean, Faculty of Law, American University of Nigeria, Sunday Ogunronbi, Esq., and Khanyisa Ngqata, Esq. (both of whom practice in South Africa) contributed to this case.
Mrs. Bukola Fakunle and the writer and social critic Bamidele Ademola-Olateju joined many others too numerous to mention to make vital contributions to the success of this effort.