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31.01.2005 Education

Supreme Court Hits WAEC

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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Justice At Last for SSS Students ¢75m Damages IN A HISTORIC JUDGEMENT, fourteen former SSS students whose results were cancelled by the West Africa Examinations Council without just cause have had their results restored, nearly five years after an epic legal battle ended at the Supreme Court.

Mr. Abdul Baasit of the Legal Resources Centre, Nima, Accra last week went to the Fast Track High Court which had jurisdiction to seek an enforcement of the order, and had the giant examination body which has been at the centre of many examination shortcomings over the decades, concede defeat and pay ¢75 million as damages and costs to assuage the feelings of the young boys whose lives had been on hold.

One of the pupils, Daniel Awuni who benefited under an earlier Appeal Court order reducing the punitive action by WAEC from three years to two years, is now at the University of Ghana.

According to Abdul Baasit, the whereabouts of some 13 other students of the Notre Dame seminary secondary school in Navrongo is not known, but he believed most of them had had their lives dislocated and may be hustling in Accra because of the dearth of opportunities in the North.

The case of Daniel Awuni (per his next friend Marian Awuni )vrs West African Examinations Council is that in 2000, Awuni and his colleagues sat for the SSSCE exams. At no point during or after the exams were they found to have engaged in any examination malpractice, yet when the results were released, WAEC unlawfully cancelled the entire results and further barred them for three years from taking any examinations conducted by WAEC.

Messrs Baasit, Atuguba and Ayariga (incidentally now the MP for Bawku Central) took the matter up in the High Court on August 4 2001,and won. WAEC was ordered to publish the results, but instead of doing that, they appealed against the ruling to a higher court, the Court of Appeal that reversed the decision of the lower court the following year on December 5, 2002.

Not satisfied, the lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, which allowed the appeal and ordered WAEC and the lawyers representing the students to file supplementary submissions as to whether damages should be awarded against WAEC.

In July 2004, after three long years, with these youth helplessly roaming about with their future uncertain and their parents apparently despairing, the Supreme Court reinstated the previous judgment of the High Court then presided over by his Lordship Omari Sasu, an Appeal Court judge then with additional responsibility as a High Court judge.

The court also ordered the Council to pay ¢5million to each of the 13 students and awarded costs against WAEC.

It further ordered WAEC to publish the results of the students.

Surprisingly, the Council still tarried in complying fully with the order until another coercive action sought to compel WAEC to comply with the orders of the court. WAEC has now fully complied with the orders of the court The battle was waged under article 33 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution.

The arguments advanced questions on whether there had been a breach of the provisions of the constitution; and whether WAEC was permitted to punish the students on the basis of a non-existent piece of legislation Inter alia, there were questions about the capacity of WAEC to breach provisions of their own constituent statute, the WAEC Law PNDCL 255, which in some circumstances, necessarily require judicial proceeding of a criminal nature before applying those prescriptive punitive sanctions.

None of the students had been charged or tried for any offence of examination malpractice, nor had any of them been given an opportunity to defend themselves.

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