The suspended Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), Prof. Cyril Ndifon will on September 5 know his fate in the serial sexual harassment and sundry allegations levelled against him by past and present students of the faculty.

This came on the heels of today’s inauguration of a 7-member panel to probe the allegations levelled against the embattled Law teacher. Ndifon was reinstated after surviving a 2015 allegation of raping a 20-year-old student twice in his office. The Vice Chancellor told CITY LAWYER in an exclusive interview that Ndifon was recalled based on a court judgment.

An Abuja based senior lawyer and UNICAL Law graduate, Nelly Idagba told CITY LAWYER in an exclusive interview that she was sexually harassed by Ndifon.

Meanwhile, the university authority has appointed an Acting Dean of Law in Ndifon’s stead, even as it also granted ‘Observer Status’ to the Nigeria Police and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to monitor the probe. The new Dean is Dr. (Mrs.) Rose Ohiama Ugbe.

Hinting that Prof. Ndifon’s fate may have been sealed, a press statement by the university indicated that Ugbe’s appointment “takes effect from Tuesday, August 22, 2023 and will run till a substantive dean is elected for the faculty.”

Others granted observer status include the Public Complaints Commission, (International) Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), University of Calabar Alumni (National), and ‘Malabor High Court.’

The committee has a Professor of Philosophy, Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacob as Chairman. Other members are the Executive Director of Gender Development Centre, Dr. Brenda Akpan; Director of SERVICOM, Prof. Patrick Egaga; Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Tony Eyang; Representative of Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU), Prof. Ayodeji T. Owolabi; the University Counsellor, Prof. Elizabeth Akpama; and Deputy Registrar, Post Graduate School, Barr. Gabriel Orok who will serve as Secretary.

Speaking at today’s inauguration, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Obi said that the institution has no vested interest in the case, urging the probe panel to pursue justice.

While accepting the offer to serve, the Chairman of the Panel, Prof. Oluwagbemi-Jacobs assured that against the backdrop of wide interest the matter has generated locally, nationally and internationally, members of the panel will be thorough in the investigation and fair to all parties. She stated that decisions taken will be based on the truth and available facts, not sentiment.

According to a statement by the university, the Registrar, Mr. Gabriel Egbe, in a memo to members of the panel “listed 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, high- handedness, 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 establish 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.

“The panel, according to the Registrar, is expected to carry out a thorough, fair and objective investigation of the allegations and make appropriate recommendations to Management within two weeks.”

Meanwhile, the university has mandated the new Dean of Law to “take up the responsibilities and duties associated with the office and also oversee faculty’s academic programmes, foster a healthy relationship among staff and students, and create a positive environment for teaching and learning.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that students of the faculty recently protested against the embattled Law teacher, accusing him of sexual harassment, embezzlement and manipulation of the list of students to be admitted to the elite Nigerian Law School. Ndifon denies the charges, saying the protest was orchestrated by his detractors.

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