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Police, female lawyers, alumni to probe sexual assault allegations against UNICAL professor

Mr Ndifon was accused of selecting “only female students as his supervisees thereby making them vulnerable.”

• August 22, 2023
Cyril Ndifon and UNICAL VC Florence Obi
Cyril Ndifon and UNICAL VC Florence Obi

Florence Obi, vice-chancellor of the University of Calabar, says the institution has no vested interest in the suspension of Cyril Ndifon, former dean of the Faculty of Law.

Ms Obi said this in a press briefing on Monday in Calabar, following allegations that some senior members of staff of the university wanted the professor out.

Mr Ndifon was on August 17 suspended after responding to a query over sexual assault allegations, “high-handedness, improper behaviour towards female students, extortion, and unequal treatment.”

The UNICAL vice-chancellor said, following his response to the query, the university management were left with no option than to set up an investigative panel.

Ms Obi said the panel, which followed the public service rules, would involve some staff of the faculty, the institution’s alumni, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, (FCCPC), and the police.

“On Thursday August 10, some law students led by their president came to my office to see me on some alleged improprieties going-on in their faculty and dropped a formal petition. Based on the issues that were raised by the students, the management decided to meet with senior academics in the faculty and while we were having the said meeting on August 14, we were informed that some students were protesting,” said the vice-chancellor.

Ms Obi added, “We granted the students audience and they raised issues that bordered on accountability, abuse of office, extortion, sexual harassment and many others.”

She assured the students that the allegations would be looked into.

According to her, the management resolved with the staff of the faculty of law on the need for some basic changes to be effected in the faculty to prevent what they termed as the overbearing influence of the dean in the faculty.

“Some of the immediate decisions we took was setting up a committee on student mobilisation to law school because the students had alleged that the dean was being selective and using female students as bait. We also mandated the committee to look at the list of law school students that had been sent by the former dean and if need be, the list will be recalled,” said the UNICAL vice-chancellor.

Ms Obi added, “While we removed two examination officers from the faculty and set up a vetting committee following allegations of result manipulations, we also set up a student project committee that will be assigning projects and grading. This follows allegations that the former dean was in the habit of selecting only female students as his supervisees thereby making them vulnerable.”

She maintained that the university management had ordered a compilation and submission of list of students extorted by the faculty, to be refunded following allegations of extortion of students in the faculty, among other weighty allegations.

(NAN)

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