Unical law students protest against sexual harassment by Prof previously suspended for rape

0
220

Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, on Monday, protested against persistent sexual harassment by the Dean of the faculty, Prof Cyril Ndifon.

The students, armed with different placards, chanted and demanded an end to the Sexual Harassment from the Professor.

Recall that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Calabar, Cross River State, on September 21, 2016, validated the suspension of Prof Ndifon over an alleged sexual assault.

Ndifon was, on August 29, 2015, accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old 400-level student (name withheld) in his faculty while recopying a test after the Professor had allegedly torn her initial script.

Following the development, authorities of UNICAL suspended the Dean from office. The suspension was to last until he was completely exonerated from the allegations of sexual assault and acts of official misconduct.

Not satisfied with the suspension, the embattled Professor of law had dragged the university authorities to court in suit no. NICN/CA/01/2016 claimed, amongst others, that the institution had no power to suspend him beyond three months under the University of Calabar Act, LFN, 2004.

But in a judgment, the National Industrial Court presided over by Justice Eunice Agbakoba, dismissed the suit.

Agbakoba said, “The suspension of Ndifon beyond three months was not in any way invalidated under Section 16(2) of the University of Calabar Act.”

However, Prof. Florence Obi, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, recalled Ndifon from suspension in December 2022.

However, a Civil Society Organization under the aegis Sacredhearts Gender Protective Initiative queried the reinstatement and promotion of a Law Professor.

In a letter addressed to the University’s Vice Chancellor, the group vowed to hit the street in the coming weeks if the University remains adamant.

The letter was signed by the Executive Director of the organization, Rosemary Nwafor, PhD and titled RE: RAPE CASE OF PROF. CYRIL NDIFON further noted, “Enough is Enough as same will not be business as usual.

The letter read, “On behalf of the Civil mentioned earlier Society Organization, I write to bring to your attention a hidden injustice, which your academic institution has refused to take action on. Our decision to take up this issue aligns with the globally-proclaimed 16 days of activism to protect women and girls against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

“Madam Vice Chancellor, you will recall that on August 29, 2015, one Prof. Cyril Osim Ndifon (currently the Dean of your Law Faculty) was accused of raping a female law student of your University in his office. After a preliminary investigation by the University Management, the said Ndifon was indicted and suspended as staff of the University. An attempt by Ndifon to set aside his suspension by the University was dismissed by a well-delivered judgment by the National Industrial Court on September 21 2016 (vide suit NICN/CAI01/2016).

“Apart from the preceding, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) took over investigating the criminal part of the sexual harassment case against Ndifon.

“An attempt by Ndifon to stop the ICPC from investigating and prosecuting him for abuse of office before the Federal High Court, Calabar, was dismissed in court. On March 2, 2017, Justice, I.E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court Calabar held that the application brought by Ndifon had no merit and that the offence of sexual gratification was contrary to sections 8,9 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000′. The Court of Appeal is yet to deliver its judgment on the above case.

“Arising from the above, we find it hard to understand the basis for which Ndifon, who is under investigation for sexual assault against a female law student, was reinstated as a staff of the University and made Dean of the Law Faculty. Is it that the Management of the University of Calabar has no moral standard for measuring or distinguishing right from wrong? Or is it because Ndifon is from Cross River State and the victim of the sexual assault is not?

“In the coming weeks, our organization, together with other Civil Society groups involved in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) activities, will lead a protest march and advocacy visit to international organizations and foreign embassies in the Federal Capital Territory to call your university management to order.”