By Chris Njoku
Prof. Florence Obi, Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) has disclosed that the management of the institution had no vested interest in the suspension of Prof. Cyril Ndifon, former Dean Faculty of Law.
Obi made the remark during a press briefing on Monday (August 22) in Calabar, following allegations that some senior members of staff of the institution wanted the professor out.
It would be recalled that Ndifon was on Aug. 18 suspended by the institution after he responded to a query given to him by the school management.
The query followed allegations of highhandedness, improper behaviour towards female students, extortion, unequal treatment among others.
The VC said, following the response of the query from the former Dean over the allegations leveled against him by staff and students of the faculty of law, they were left with no other option other than to set up an investigative panel.
She said the panel which followed the public service rules would involve some staff of the faculty, the institution’s alumni, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), police among others.
“On Thursday, Aug. 10, some law students led by their president came to my office to see me on some alleged improprieties going on in their faculty and dropped a formal petition.
“Based on the issues that were raised by the students, the management decided to meet with senior academics in the faculty and while we were having the said meeting on Aug. 14, we were informed that some students were protesting.
“We granted the students audience and they raised issues that bordered on accountability, abuse of office, extortion, sexual harassment and many others, although sexual harassment gained more prominence in the public space,” she said.
She said she assured the students that the allegations would be looked into but the meeting with the senior staff of the faculty that continued later, revealed many other allegations not touched by the protesting students.
According to her, the management resolved with the staff of the faculty of law on the need for some basic changes to be effected in the faculty to prevent what they termed the overbearing influence of the Dean in the faculty.
“Some of the immediate decisions we took was setting up a committee on student mobilisation to law school because the students had alleged that the Dean was being selective and using female students as bait.
“We also mandated the committee to look at the list of law school students that had been sent by the former Dean and if need be, the list will be recalled.
“While we removed two examination officers from the faculty and set up a vetting committee following allegations of result manipulations, we also set up a student project committee that will be assigning projects and grading.
“This follows allegations that the former Dean was in the habit of selecting only female students as his supervisees thereby making them vulnerable,” she said
She maintained that the management had ordered a compilation and submission of a list of students extorted by the faculty to be refunded following allegations of extortion of students in the faculty, among other weighty allegations.
While adding that the management would not fold its hands and accept ugly sceneries in the institution, both the students and staff who had alleged and the accused former Dean would be given the opportunity to defend themselves in the panel.