LAWSAN (LAW STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA- UNIVERSITY OF CALABAR) RESPONSE TO PROF. NDIFON’S DECEPTIVE STATEMENTS
The Law Students’ Association of Nigeria, University of Calabar Chapter, (LAWSAN UCC) under the leadership of His Excellency, Comr OBI BENEDICT OTU as the President and the Chief Executive Officer of the Association, Hon. TARBO PATRICIA as the Speaker of the LAWSAN Parliament, and Hon. Justice. EZIAMA GENEVEIVE GINIKACHUKWU as the Chief Judge of the LAWSAN UCC High Court, wishes to address and provide clarity regarding the recent statements made by Prof. Ndifon where he claims he is innocent of the allegations made against him by the student body.
We believe it is essential to shed light on some of the claims and allegations made by Prof. Ndifon in order to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the situation. The unity and determination of the three branches of the LAWSAN UCC government in addressing this matter are a testament to our commitment to transparency and accountability and to put an end to an issue that has brought so much shame and public ridicule to the Association and the University community in general because of one man’s continual abuse of office during his time in office as the Dean, Faculty of Law.
We write as an Association to communicate to the general public and those whose conscience have not been blurred by the falsehood perpetuated in Professor Ndifon’s story. Indeed, as one carefully reads through the lines and words of his narrative, it’s difficult not to marvel at Professor Ndifon’s audacity and his willingness to unabashedly promote untruths. All of this is an attempt to manipulate the sentiments of the Political Class, the University of Calabar Management, the Faculty’s Staff, and the Good People of Cross River State and Nigeria, making them believe that his current predicament is a result of unjust persecution. However, the LAWSAN Student Body, which courageously stepped forward to denounce his reprehensible behavior, will not permit his stratagems to gain sympathy from those who value truth and justice.
While we acknowledge Prof. Ndifon’s attempt to present his side of the story, it is important to scrutinize the facts. The protest that took place on August 14th 2023 was a reaction to the suspended Professor’s actions during his tenure as the Dean of the Faculty of Law. It was prompted by concerns about administrative irregularities, corrupt practices and reports of sexual harassment against female students by the students themselves. Prof. Ndifon’s attempt to discredit the protest by focusing on the content of placards is a diversion from the substantive issues at hand.
In his defence, Professor Ndifon mentioned that the writeup on the Placards were written by one Person! Assuming there exist a law in our statute books regulating the number of persons to write inscriptions on placards, this would then be made an issue, alas there is no such law, so we allow the embattled “1st Professor of Law of Cross River State” to continue dancing naked in public and showing the world his intellectual deficiencies in the name of gathering public sympathy.
Professor Ndifon’s claim that the University is protecting the LAWSAN President raises an important question: What or whom would the President need protection from? Does this suggest an underlying intention to harm the President, an intention that has thus far been unsuccessful? It’s important to note that the President led a non-violent protest to the Vice Chancellor, an action allowed under our laws and the University’s rules. During this protest, there was no vandalism of University property, and there was no attempt to disrupt public order on that particular day. However, Professor Ndifon seemed to anticipate that the University’s management would suppress the protesters and possibly impose penalties on them. It appears he expected the Vice Chancellor to employ the same heavy-handed tactics that he himself has employed in his interactions with students and colleagues within the Faculty, both of whom have been subjected to his oppression for years.
Regarding the legal case from 2015 where Prof. Ndifon was accused of raping a 400-level Law student in his office, his claim of winning the case in court is misleading and untrue. In reality, Prof. Ndifon lost all the cases he had instituted against the University of Calabar at the time. Furthermore, he abandoned the appeal he had initiated against the judgment of the National Industrial Court, which clearly stated that the University was within its rights to suspend him in 2015.
It is worth noting that in 2015, Prof. Ndifon managed to use his political connections to influence the Police not to charge him to court but to issue a Police report in his favor. This raises questions about the existence of the court case he now claims to have won. If he insists on having won a case, we respectfully request that he provide the case details for public scrutiny, as such a significant case should be readily available for reference.
Moreover, after the events in 2015, Prof. Ndifon was reinstated, despite there being a ban indicating that he was not to hold any office in the University, whether elected or appointed. This ban was lifted by the University administration after Prof. Ndifon pressured them, claiming he had reformed and turned over a new leaf. It’s noteworthy that this is the same administration he has now accused of conniving with student leaders to remove him from Office!
The unfortunate reinstatement clearly empowered Professor Ndifon, leading to increased audacity. He was given the opportunity to target and persist in his inappropriate advances toward vulnerable female law students who were placed under his guidance and mentorship. Consequently, it became a daily occurrence to witness female law students either running or attempting to hide from the predatory actions of the suspended Dean of Law. He dedicated his free time to identifying students with academic challenges, inviting them to his office under the pretense of seeking help, and then subjecting them to degrading acts such as making tea for him, uttering immoral and corny jokes, and eventually forcing them to engage in sexual misconduct with him, all in exchange for favorable grades. Acts of sexual misconduct include dropping his pants, forcing his penis into their mouths, forcefully thrusting his hands under their skirts and inserting his fingers into their vagina and touching them in other sensitive body parts). .He manipulated these students with promises to resolve their academic issues.
Prof. Ndifon’s alleged misconduct after his reinstatement as Dean raises serious concerns. The allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards female students must be thoroughly investigated. We cannot ignore the testimonies and experiences shared by past and current students.
The issue of the Law Journal is also a matter of great concern. Since his reinstatement as the Dean of the Faculty in December, 2020 till this very day, no Law Student has been given a Law Journal despite Prof. Ndifon demanding and receiving the sum of N1,700 per each newly admitted Law Student and ₦1000 by each returning/old student into the following account details (1014459068, Zenith Bank, Acct Name: Law Journal). Should anyone do the Math by multiplying this amount by a rough estimate of about Two Thousand Law students per year and then further multiply by 3 years (for which he has been in office without Publishing a single Journal), then one is left with no other option but to question the audacity of his misplaced courage and arrogance to say that he is blameless! There is therefore clearly a lack of transparency and accountability in this regard.
To our greatest dismay, Prof. Ndifon has already misinformed the University management that he has published the Law journals online. This is another bold-faced lie! Prof. Ndifon’s claim of having published journals online is contradicted by our investigation into the creation and update of the website in June 2023. In an attempt to mislead the general public and the University community into believing that Journals had been published, Prof. Ndifon hurriedly employed the services of one Mr. Tolu Tade with the phone number (09055339313) to hurriedly build a website supposedly meant to house published articles on topical and emerging issues in the area of Law to constitute our Journal. Shockingly, proper investigation reveals that the aforementioned website was created on the 2nd day of June, 2023, supposedly meant to publish online journals after three years since he assumed office! The website was updated on the 3rd day of June and meant to expire on the 2nd of June ,2024.
Other details of this bogus website re produced hereunder:
Registry Domain ID: 2295891-NIRA
Registrar URL: https://www hihostnow.com.ng
Registrant contact Email: support @lufem.com.ng
Assuming but not conceding the claim that journals had been published online, since he has been extorting funds from students for this purpose, why is this development strange to Law students’ leaders and the students in General? If indeed Prof. Ndifon had been publishing our journal online, should he not have informed the student body of the document meant for their consumption and referred them to the site long ago? Should the students not be privy to this new development wherein their law journal is now published online and should they not have been referred to go and read same? Yet no one, staff or student knew of the existence of any website where journals were hosted!
Prof. Ndifon hurriedly had a website set up in June this year to deceive the public after the LAWSAN President demanded severally that he produce the law journal for which he had been collecting money from students. There are no articles thereon and indeed they cannot be when there is no law journal to host thereon. A careful look at the editors would reveal certain names of some lecturers. Were these gentlemen ever given any article to edit? The answer is a resounding NO!
Please kindly access the following web address of the Faculty of Law Journal www.Calabarlawjournal.com.ng
In the face of biting economic conditions where most students couldn’t pay Fees very early enough, the suspended Prof. Cyril Ndifon as Dean implemented a mandatory collection of the sum of ₦2000 (from all LLB students) and ₦500 (From Diploma Students) upon presentation of receipts for Clearance at the Faculty Finance Office, a development that every Law student frowned at. It is in the nature of Law Students to being frugal especially those from low- and middle-Class families, keeping in mind the Challenges occasioned by expenses in Law School, yet Prof. Ndifon had no pity on us or our parents!
The Public should know this day that among the Faculty payments and approved dues for the Faculty of Law, the suspended Dean of the Faculty of L, University of Calabar, demanded for and received over a 3 year period, the sum of N500 from each student for the student Union Constitution dues, a fee which had already been collected by the University from the same students. All attempts by the President to draw his attention to this illegal double taxation were met with threats of denial of law school form if he did not desist from questioning him. Infact on more than one occasion, he chased the LAWSAN President out of his office on the grounds that he was overstepping his boundaries and risked not going to Law school. As all attempts for dialogue failed, the President never went back to the suspended Dean. At that point, it was resolved that a protest was the only way out.
The Practice of Students Paying to obtain their Matriculation Numbers is strange in the System. Our junior Colleagues approached us in their numbers complaining about the illegal collection of ₦500 to obtain Matriculation Numbers. Both Classes of LLB2A & B paid money to the Faculty Officer to collect their Matriculation Numbers, The Suspended Dean of the Faculty of Law instructed staff to collect these sums and implemented this fraudulent collection. When the students complain, he calls that witch-hunting!
Prof. Ndifon is a Professor of Law who has decided to make his character an issue by declaring that he will not allow his hard-earned name and integrity to be dragged to mud, not minding the plethora of shared experiences of Past Female Law Graduates and the pitiable experiences of current Students with the him. It is trite that if an accused has consciously given evidence of his own good character and sought to create a favorable impression in the mind of the judge (here the innocent public), his dirty past can be exhumed without any restraint. Hence, we make bold to say that the suspended Dean was allegedly expelled by this same institution during his undergraduate days over cultism related activities. He then sought for admission at the University of Ife, Ile-ife Osun State, South Western Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University) from where he eventually graduated only to return to the University of Calabar to be employed as a lecturer! Our society is indeed twisted!
It is disheartening that a distinguished Professor of Law would avoid addressing these issues directly and instead engage in political and ethnic diversions. We firmly believe that any individual facing allegations should be held accountable and not allowed to evade scrutiny through unrelated matters.
The Dean has himself always boasted before Students that he is well connected in society being a member of the Pirate Confraternity, and that there is nothing anybody can do to him. One wonders if his conduct reflects the true creed and tenets of the Brotherhood! We think not!
If the Suspended Dean is blameless as claimed, why is he avoiding these issues raised by students but rather focusing on fanning the embers of ethnic based politics, gender hate against the first Female Vice Chancellor and skimming on the recent Speakership Election in the Cross River House of Assembly?
So, given that the Very Distinguished Honorable Speaker of the House of Assembly shares the same native origin in Ikom LGA as the suspended Dean, he appears to be exploring the possibility of leveraging a longstanding political dispute and divisions as a means to evade accountability for his actions. However, it is crucial to note that political leaders in the state, both young and old, express disappointment in him. This situation has shattered our hopes that the first Professor of Law from Cross River State would serve as a beacon of hope during legal challenges the State may face. This disappointment stems from his corrupt and questionable behavior and evident lack of self-control in interactions with individuals of the opposite sex, particularly his vulnerable students! Oh how sad that in this day and age, his is entangled in the tentacles of ethnic bigotry and thinks the whole world is so inclined!
We further clarify that the President of LAWSAN UCC has not been suspended, and any claims suggesting that by Prof. Ndifon are lies. Permit us to educate you on this:
The power to impeach or suspend an elected LAWSAN President is vested exclusively in the PARLIAMENT, as clearly defined by constitutional provisions. Regrettably, the suspended Dean and his supporters seem to be out of touch with this fundamental reality. Shortly after the protest, Professor Ndifon and his loyal associates convened a meeting at Rabana, IBB Way, Calabar to strategize on removing the President from office. Their efforts to achieve this through the Parliament had proven unsuccessful, given that the Speaker and a majority of the Parliament members aligned with the President’s stance. Following this meeting, these loyalists, operating under the banner of “Congress Men and Women,” issued a publication claiming to have suspended the LAWSAN UCC President. While it is accurate that the Congress, representing the general body of Law students, possesses the authority to enact such suspensions, the critical question remains: Who holds the power to convene a LAWSAN UCC Congress?
Let us take you through our LAWSAN Constitution.
Section 13 of the LAWSAN Constitution (As amended in 2019) states as follows: “The Convening Power of the General Congress lies with the President and no other.”
Sub-section 3 states “Where the President fails to summon a Congress, the Secretary General shall with a memo signed by a simple majority of the Parliament summon the meeting of General Congress”
When this is achieved, what next?
Sub-section 4 states: “The Vice President or in her absence the General Secretary or in her absence the most senior executive member of the Association shall preside over such Congress”.
Now, the Public and the General Public should take notice of the following:
Firstly, the supposed Congress which held outside the school environment which purportedly suspended the President was never summoned by the President.
Secondly, this kangaroo Congress was never summoned by the General Secretary of the association neither did any memo reach the Parliament.
Thirdly, the Kangaroo Congress was never chaired by the Vice President of the Association nor the Secretary General of the Association. It is crystal from Section 13 cited above that it is only an Executive member of LAWSAN UCC who can chair a LAWSAN Congress in the absence of the President or the Vice.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the suspended Dean who loves illegality presided over one and clearly, he and his cronies are not friends of due Process. Indeed, the said ‘Congress Men and Women’ who purported to issue the suspension are abinitio naked of such constitutional capacity to even convene a meeting in the name of “LAWSAN CONGRESS”.
Moreover, Section 14 of the LAWSAN UCC Constitution outlines specific quorum requirements for the General Congress. It stipulates that at least 30 members of the Association must be present to constitute a quorum during regular congress sessions. In the event of an Emergency Congress, a quorum requires a minimum of 20 members of the Association to be present. Upon conducting a thorough investigation, it has come to light that the individuals who participated in this so-called ‘congress’ outside the school premises at Rabana did not even amount to 15 in number! The individual responsible for drafting their purported removal notice against the LAWSAN President is Asanam George Obong, a final-year student within the Faculty.The names of Asanam George Obong and all other participants in this unauthorized gathering have been duly submitted to the Parliament. They await sanctions by the Association for their engagement in unlawful activities and their attempt to mislead the public through their actions.
Following the unauthorized announcement made by this group, the LAWSAN UCC Parliament swiftly responded by issuing a counter-publication. This official statement reiterated that Comr OBI BENEDICT OUT remains the LAWSAN UCC President and will continue to fulfill his duties, including those that are inherent to his office.
Since the protest, the University of Calabar administration has taken the necessary steps by establishing an administrative panel, in accordance with the existing university regulations, to thoroughly investigate all allegations against Professor Ndifon. Instead of willingly appearing before this panel to address the accusations, Professor Ndifon has opted to seek a court injunction to prevent the panel from convening. Regrettably, this hasty decision by the suspended Dean to take the matter to court, has demonstrated a lack of respect for due process. Not only that, this decision raises questions about his motives. One may wonder why he is pursuing legal action to block the panel rather than cooperating with it. One would expect that he should be eager to clear his name and reputation by addressing the allegations directly. This situation raises the question of whether the suspended dean is genuinely interested in clearing his name or pursuing other objectives through legal means.
One might have expected that he would resort to legal action only if the panel’s findings were unsatisfactory, in line with established principles of administrative law. It appears he may have assumed that merely mentioning legal proceedings would intimidate or coerce us into submission. However, he should remember that the courtroom is a bastion of justice, not a place for unwarranted concessions or favors.
Notwithstanding all the diversionary tactics employed by Prof. Ndifon to frustrate the Panel’s investigation and to answer to his misdeed, we, the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial arms of the Law Students’ Association, University of Calabar, emphasize our commitment to upholding the principles of justice, accountability, and due process. We seek a thorough investigation into the allegations against Prof. Ndifon and the resolution of all related issues in a fair and transparent manner.
OBI BENEDICT OTU (President)
TARBO PATRICIAf (Speaker)
JUSTICE GENEVIEVE EZIAMA (Chief Judge)
Law Students’ Association, University of Calabar