Panel finds UNICAL Law Prof., Ndifon guilty of bargaining for sexual favour and other misconducts

Prof. Cyril Ndifon, the suspended Dean of the Law Faculty of the university of Calabar, has been found guilty of gross misconduct, including bargaining for sexual favour and exploitation of students.

The panel set up by the Vice Chancellor to investigate that allegations against him, wrote in it’s report,

“Elaborately, he had been perpetrating cruelty against students by forestalling the graduation of especially some female students at the appropriate time by withholding and refusing to release their results and threatening some that they would never graduate from the Faculty or go to the law school” 

The report revealed his failure to appear before the panel meant to investigate the allegations against him. 

In August a protest was led by some female students of the law Faculty demanding a prompt removal of Ndifon for allegedly harassing them.

Ndifon denied on the allegation stating that the sexual harassment was a plot against him because of his victory in the faculty’s election. 

Thereafter, he was suspended and a panel was constituted to investigate him.

Prof. Florence Obi, the school’s vice-chancellor, constituted the administrative panel to thoroughly investigate the allegations against Ndifon.

The members of the panel comprised Prof. Dorothy Oluwagbemi-Jacob – Chairperson; Dr. Brenda Akpan (Executive Director, Gender Development) – Member; Prof. Patrick Egaga (Director SERVICOM) – Member; Dr. Tony Eyang (Dean Students Affairs) – Member; Prof. Ayodeji T. Owolabi (Anti-Corruption and Transparency) – Member; Prof. Elizabeth Akpama (University Counselor)- Member and Barr. Gabriel O. Orok – Secretary.

The Observers are Barr. Ann A. Awah (International Federation of Female Lawyers); SP Philomina Modor (Nigerian Police Commission, Gender Unit); Ugboma, Juliet (Public Complaints Commission); Godwin Otang; Barr (Dr.) Sam Eboh (Representative, University of Calabar Alumni) and Ugbe, Emmanuella Ushiekpe (Chief Judge of Malabo High Court).

The terms of reference given to the panel include “To thoroughly investigate cases of sexual harassment and molestation levelled against the suspended Dean of Law by female students and others who may have felt victimized;

To investigate the alleged abuse of office, extortion and high-handedness by the suspended Dean; To establish the alleged serial violations of the University rules and regulations and To investigate the allegation that majority of the suspended Dean’s Supervisees and their Course Representatives were female students”.

The panel worked with materials which included oral, and written submissions physical and virtual participation from victims, fellow lecturers including professors and the President of the Law Students Association (LAWSAN) of the University of Calabar, Obi Benedict Otu.

The panel further established that “suspended Dean was compelling the law students to pay for a Faculty Journal that was non-existent for three consecutive academic sessions”

The panel stated that the “suspended Dean of law should face the statutory Disciplinary Committee of the University of Calabar for appropriate sanctions applicable to acts of both Major and Gross – misconduct”.

“The panel makes this recommendation in view of Prof. Ndifon’s antecedents in the Faculty of Law, which from the testimonies given by both staff and students are in clear violations of the extant rules and regulations governing the conditions of service of staff of the University of Calabar.

“He has used his position as a lecturer and his position as Dean of the Faculty of Law for non-edifying purposes, frustrating, traumatizing and jeopardizing the future of some of the students, as well as the lecturers,” the report stated.

Part of the panel’s recommendation was as follow: “The suspended Dean should be made to refund over three million naira (N3m) realized from the payments made by the law students for the Law Journal which he neither published nor gave to the students.

“That Comfort Jumbo be given another supplementary examination since the suspended Dean collected her scripts for Law of Evidence, law of Equity and Land law.

“That the acting Dean should without delay arrange internal defense for Barrister Anne Eruegi Agi to defend her Ph.D and encourage same to put in for promotion in the next promotion exercise.

“That the university should make a rule to stop lecturers from asking students to come and see them at odd (after official) hours and if need be, encourage the culture of not locking their offices when consulting with students. This is consistent with global best practice.

“The former accountant of the Faculty of Law, Mrs. Aniekan Udeme Ekwere should be reprimanded for imposing N1000/2000 on the students for stamping clearance receipts.

“The former Faculty Officer, Mr. Robert Omang should be cautioned for not seeking approval for the N500 he charged the students though such was meant to meet a need in the Faculty.

“The university should bend backwards so as to come to the aid of some law students who have been roaming around because of the lapses in the Faculty of Law over the years.

There should be a call for such to come for supplementary examinations or mop up. This will go a long way to help the University gain the confidence among stakeholders and prove to the wider society that the University cares and is not indifferent.”

“Further steps should be taken to clean up the mess in the Faculty of Law. The seeds of discord planted over the years need to be uprooted. The culture of borderization seems to be entrenched both among staff and students. Such is unhealthy for academic standards, discipline and merit.”

“The younger academics in the Faculty therefore, need re-orientation to the noble ideals and values the University system stands for.”

“This can be achieved if they are willing to make conscious efforts to work on some of the barriers that stand in the way of critical thinking such as egocentrism and sociocentrism.”

“It is indeed possible with God on the side of the University for old things to pass away and for everything to become new in the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, Calabar.”