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#SexForGrades: Panel finds UNICAL professor guilty of sexual harassment, extortion

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A University of Calabar probe panel has found Law Prof Ndifon guilty of gross misconduct, intimidation, and bargaining for sexual favours from female students; he has been ordered to return the N3 million extorted from undergraduates.

The University of Calabar’s investigation panel, which was formed to look into claims of sexual harassment of female students by the suspended Dean of the school’s Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), Prof. Cyril Ndifon, found the senior lecturer guilty of gross misconduct.

The report of the panel constituted to investigate Prof. Ndifon’s alleged misconduct, sexual harassment, and abuse of office, obtained by Chronicle NG on Sunday, “established that the suspended Dean, Prof. Cyril Osim Ndifon, was using his official position to both intimidate and bargain for sexual favour from female students in the Faculty of Law.”

It also “established that the suspended Dean had been involved in students’ exploitation”.

“Elaborately, he had been perpetrating cruelty against students by forestalling the graduation of especially some female students at the appropriate time by withholding and refusing to release their results and threatening some that they would never graduate from the Faculty or go to the law school,” the panel stated in the report.

Recall Chronicle NG reported in August that female law students at UNICAL mounted a protest in August, demanding that Ndifon be fired immediately for allegedly sexually assaulting them.

Despite Ndifon’s contention that the sexual harassment charge was planted against him because he won the faculty election, the university administration suspended him and formed a panel to investigate the allegation.

Prof. Florence Obi, the school’s vice-chancellor, formed the administrative panel to thoroughly investigate the claims against Ndifon.

The members of the panel comprised Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacob – Chairperson; Dr. Brenda Akpan (Executive Director, Gender Development) – Member; Prof. Patrick Egaga (Director SERVICOM) – Member; Dr. Tony Eyang (Dean Students Affairs) – Member; Prof. Ayodeji T. Owolabi (Anti-Corruption and Transparency) – Member; Prof. Elizabeth Akpama (University Counsellor)- Member and Barr. Gabriel O. Orok – Secretary.

Barr. Ann A. Awah (International Federation of Female Lawyers); SP Philomina Modor (Nigerian Police Commission, Gender Unit); Juliet Ugboma (Public Complaints Commission); Godwin Otang; Barr (Dr.) Sam Eboh (Representative, University of Calabar Alumni); and Emmanuella Ushiekpe (Chief Judge of Malabo High Court) are the Observers.

The Dean of the Law Faculty at Nigeria’s University of Calabar, who has been accused of sexually harassing female students, has responded to the allegations.

The panel’s terms of reference include “to thoroughly investigate cases of sexual harassment and molestation levelled against the suspended Dean of Law by female students and others who may have felt victimised; to investigate the suspended Dean’s alleged abuse of office, extortion, and high-handedness; to establish the alleged serial violations of the University rules and regulations; and to investigate the allegation that the majority of the suspended Dean’s

The panel relied on oral and written submissions, as well as physical and virtual involvement from victims, colleagues lecturers, including professors, and Obi Benedict Otu, President of the University of Calabar’s Law Students Association (LAWSAN).

The panel also determined that the “suspended Dean was compelling the law students to pay for a Faculty Journal that was non-existent for three consecutive academic sessions,” according to the report.

Thus, the panel suggested that the “suspended Dean of law should face the statutory Disciplinary Committee of the University of Calabar for appropriate sanctions applicable to acts of both Major and Gross – misconduct” .

“The panel makes this recommendation in view of Prof. Ndifon’s antecedents in the Faculty of Law, which from the testimonies given by both staff and students are in clear violations of the extant rules and regulations governing the conditions of service of staff of the University of Calabar.

“He has used his position as a lecturer and his position as Dean of the Faculty of Law for non-edifying purposes, frustrating, traumatizing and jeopardizing the future of some of the students, as well as the lecturers,” the report stated.

The panel also recommended as follows: “The suspended Dean should be made to refund over three million naira (N3m) realized from the payments made by the law students for the Law Journal which he neither published nor gave to the students.

“That Comfort Jumbo be given another supplementary examination since the suspended Dean collected her scripts for Law of Evidence, law of Equity and Land law.

“That the acting Dean should without delay arrange internal defense for Barrister Anne Eruegi Agi to defend her Ph.D and encourage same to put in for promotion in the next promotion exercise.

“That the university should make a rule to stop lecturers from asking students to come and see them at odd (after official) hours and if need be, encourage the culture of not locking their offices when consulting with students. This is consistent with global best practice.

“The former accountant of the Faculty of Law, Mrs. Aniekan Udeme Ekwere should be reprimanded for imposing N1000/2000 on the students for stamping clearance receipts.

“The former Faculty Officer, Mr. Robert Omang should be cautioned for not seeking approval for the N500 he charged the students though such was meant to meet a need in the Faculty.

“The university should bend backwards so as to come to the aid of some law students who have been roaming around because of the lapses in the Faculty of Law over the years. There should be a call for such to come for supplementary examinations or mop up. This will go a long way to help the University gain the confidence among stakeholders and prove to the wider society that the University cares and is not indifferent.

“Further steps should be taken to clean up the mess in the Faculty of Law. The seeds of discord planted over the years need to be uprooted. The culture of borderization seems to be entrenched both among staff and students. Such is unhealthy for academic standards, discipline and merit.

“The younger academics in the Faculty therefore, need re-orientation to the noble ideals and values the University system stands for. This can be achieved if they are willing to make conscious efforts to work on some of the barriers that stand in the way of critical thinking such as egocentrism and sociocentrism. It is indeed possible with God on the side of the University for old things to pass away and for everything to become new in the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, Calabar.”

 

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