Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL) recently held a protest accusing the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon of sexual harassment and manipulation of the Nigerian Law School admission list.

Prof. Ndifon has denied the allegations and challenged any victim to come forward.

In this exclusive, no-holds-barred interview, a senior lawyer and graduate of the Faculty of Law tells CITY LAWYER how she was sexually harassed by the embattled Law teacher. Efforts to get Prof. Ndifon to respond to these specific allegations proved abortive. Enquiries to his telephone via WhatsApp did not receive any feedback while calls to his telephone line were declined.

Briefly introduce yourself, please.

My name is Nelly Idagba. I am a graduate of the University of Calabar with 13 years post-call (experience). I am also an Artist and speak for women through my paintings.

Which year were you at the University of Calabar and what was your course of study?

I got admission in 2003/2004. I graduated from the University of Calabar in 2008. I studied Law.

During your stay at UNICAL, did you have any opportunity to encounter Prof. Cyril Ndifon?

Yes, I did. He was my lecturer.

What course did he teach you?

He taught me Legal Method. It was a Year 2 course.

What was your experience while he took you on the course?

This will be a very long, emotional and sad story for me to share.
I had a very terrible experience as a young student of just 18 years old, being his student.

I recall that fateful day after giving his lectures; he dropped his books on my desk and asked me to carry them and follow him to his office. I innocently did. But that was the beginning of my tragedy with him until I graduated from the Faculty with pains and push.

He started his sexual harassment with me immediately I arrived his office to drop his errand books by talking about very erotic stories and how much he liked me, and how I will come out in flying colours if I agree to be his girlfriend.

It seemed really strange to me then because I was raised to reverence my elders, especially a Lecturer/Teacher. I recall quickly calling my mother to report all he said. She asked that I avoid him completely – which I did. But guess what? It still didn’t help one bit!

This man made sure he failed me 3 consecutive times and harassed me at every given time I approached his office to question my result.

I recall he drank a certain tea with (Indian) hemp constantly in his office – which we gossiped as students, because we thought that may have been one of the reasons he always got amorous with little female students.

Some of his words to me that period were, “If you do not sleep with me, you will leave the Faculty with a Third Class (degree). I promise you! Even if you guide your p**sy, I will succeed or you will fail.” And then he will give a demeaning and sarcastic laughter! He was a nightmare!!

One time, I sat for his Harvard carry-over (course). While in Year 5 writing his course with Year 2 students, he walked into the hall and made an announcement saying, “If you are here and I had asked you not to write this exam, walk out!” I immediately knew he was talking to me but I kept on writing. He walked directly to my desk and used a red biro to cancel each page of what I wrote and asked me to submit (the answer sheet).

I cried and reported him to a lecturer who saw what he did. The lecturer said: “Sorry, I can’t resolve your issue with him because he is my PhD Supervisor.”

He became a prayer point every evening in my home. I was so confused at some point that I thought I was a complete daft in academics until I invited my parents to challenge my scripts. He apologized to my parents, saying he had failed me in error and would correct the results. But he never did.

On one occasion, he sent for me. Just when I opened his office, he immediately grabbed my white shirt, trying to pull out my young, fragile breast until a lecturer knocked at the door. He ran like a mouse in an open house, looking for where to hide.

This was my first shameful experience in the Faculty of Law, because rumors spread like wild fire on a young child’s life. Imagine going through all of this as a very young girl!

Can you be more specific on what you mean by saying that he “harassed me at every time l approached his office to question my result”?

I will be specific. He would on one occasion send for me. Just when I knocked and opened his office door, he grabbed my blouse and closed the door behind me and struggled to fondle me until a lecturer knocked at the door and I was saved. It all wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Was it a student he sent to call you or his staff?

He would always send my classmates or ask me to follow him after classes.

Tell us more about your parents’ intervention concerning your result

After crying severally to my parents, my late father visited the Faculty and had a meeting with him, asking what really the problem was. In my father’s words, “If this child isn’t performing well, let me know and I will discipline her.” I recall him smiling and saying, it wasn’t a problem; he made some mistakes and would correct it immediately. But it was all lies.

How did you eventually pass the course?
It took a certain lecturer in the Faculty to make the corrections in my Year 5, just before Law School. That’s how I was freed.

You never formally petitioned to the Dean of Law or the university leadership?
I would never have done that as at the time. I was young and lack the exposure, gods and knowledge.

Given the recent protest by students of the Faculty, do you feel you should have spoken earlier than now?

I have done the best I can by telling my story. This was a lot for me to say, as it reminded me of the torments I went through.

I pray other ladies or his victims will come out to speak as I have, so that other young girl-children will have a proper education without facing academic monsters in the guise of lecturers. Thank you.

Thank you.

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