Godsgift Moses, Promise Owei, Thankgod Harold, Success Jumbo, Savior Samuel, and 30 more Nigerian students came to America hoping it would be the promised land.
It’s only fitting that “Opportunity is here” is the motto of Alabama State University, listed as one of America’s 100 Historic Black Colleges and Universities, and where they got full scholarships from a Nigerian government fund for four years of education. Instead of getting opportunity, they say the school took their country’s millions and used the money to discriminate against them.
In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, 41 Nigerian nationals—many of whom are now Alabama State University alumni—allege the school overcharged them for books and meals, enrolled them in classes they never took, and more, all because they were black foreigners.
“They called us cash cows,” said Jimmy Iwezu, an ASU alum who claims the university intentionally mismanaged millions from a scholarship fund set up by the Nigerian government that was paid in advance for every exchange student. “I’m a black man and I’m proud to be black, but I felt discriminated against.”
The 37-year-old social work grad cites the school’s self-proclaimed autonomy to do whatever it wished with the seven-figure sum Nigeria prepaid back in 2013 for some 41 students to go to the school.
Attorney Julian McPhillips, who brought the lawsuit to court for the second time—the first attempt, back in April, accused the school of breaching its contract with Nigeria and was dismissed—suggests ASU violated Title VI civil rights.
The students allege they were shorted their deserved monies by ASU “because of their Nigerian national origin,” according to the lawsuit.
McPhillips contends ASU hammered the students with exorbitant “billing” and they weren’t “being treated like other students” when the school allegedly inflated the costs of staples like books and room and board, and repurposed the funds to pay for the school’s “bond issues” and to help front costs for “a new stadium,” and, ironically, a center for civil rights awareness.
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