The suspended Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Calabar, UNICAL, Prof Cyril Ndifon, has said that the panel set up by the university authorities to probe the allegation of sexual harassment against female students lacks the locus and competence to undertake the assignment in its term of assignments. He claimed that appearing before the panel would amount to subjudice since the matter is already before the court.
In an interview with journalists, he said: “I am greatly prejudiced and subjected to excruciating psychological pains, trauma and anguish on account of the above stated acts of defendants.”
The professor of law had approached the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, where he sued the Vice Chancellor of UNICAL, Prof. Florence Obi, for character defamation. Ndifon said the purported protest by the law students, mostly female, was sponsored by his academic colleagues, who have been out to bring him down. He alleged that the VC herself had been at the forefront, plotting his removal as Dean.
Ndifon expressed displeasure over what he described as dragging his image into the mud even when he did nothing wrong. The matter before the Industrial Court has Suit No: NICN/CA/ 42/ 2023 between Prof. Cyril Ndifon (claimant), and the Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar, and three others as defendants.
In the originating summons, the defendants, who include the UNICAL Registrar, and Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacob, were to appear before the court before eight days after service of the summons on them. In exhibit 9, the embattled professor accused the VC of colluding with the LAWSAN president (UNICAL Chapter), Mr. Obi Benedict Otu, and others, to stage- manage a protest against him so as to pull him down. Ndifon lamented that his right and freedom of movement to the University of Calabar premises have been restricted and curtailed by order of the Vice Chancellor. In an interview, he said, “I am gravely prejudiced on account thereof.”
The panel to probe Ndifon includes the Public Complaints Commission, the Nigeria Police Gender Unit (D12), Federation of Women Lawyers, University of Calabar Alumni (National), ‘Malabor’ High Court and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA – National).
Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacobs is Chairman of the Panel.
The panel was given a 12-point terms of reference, which include: rigorous investigation of sexual harassment against the suspended dean, to examine the extent of result manipulations, mutilations and aberration in examination conduct in the Faculty of Law from 2021 and investigations relating to the abuse of office, highhandedness, extortion and violation of the extant laws of the University by the suspended Dean.
Others include checking the records of candidates mobilized to Law School in the past two sessions and establishing if those mobilized met the requirements, the allegation of students being made to pay for matriculation numbers/clearance against Senate approved payments, Direct Entry admission abnormalities, mode of course allocations to lecturers and choice of supervisees and Course Reps by the suspended Dean, as well as, compliance with Senate decisions on faculty meetings.
According to the Registrar, Gabriel Egbe, the panel is expected to carry out a thorough, fair and objective investigation of the allegations and make appropriate recommendations to Management within two weeks. The Public Relations Officer of UNICAL, Mr Effiong Eyo, said in a telephone interview that the school has not found Ndifon guilty. “What we did was to investigate the alleged misconduct, but since he felt court was the only option, we will be there for hearing,” Eyo stated.