By Magnus Effiong
Remarks credited to the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy, on the sex scandals rocking the University of Calabar has not gone down well with the management of the institution, which, on Friday, described the said remarks as unfortunate.
Recall that female law students of the University had, penultimate week, protested and wrote petition against the Law Faculty Dean, Prof Cyril Ndifon, alleging sexual harrasment and other infractions.
After preliminary investigations, UniCal management had, on August 17, 2023, suspended Professor Ndifon for what it described as violation of extant rules and regulations of the University. The management thereafter set up a panel to investigate the numerous allegations.
But Prof Ndifon was reported to have dragged the institution’s management to court over the matter, and reports say he is yet to appear before the panel.
Addressing Journalists in Calabar, Friday, over the issue, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Florence Obi, decried Mrs Kennedy’s jail threat in the viral audio, saying the Minister’s outburst was “a completely new dimension.” to the matter
“While management has tried to deal with the issues within the procedural laws of administrative resolution, a completely new dimension has unfortunately reared its head in a way that has left us nonplussed with the leaked viral audio of intimidation and jail threats from the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy, on the few girls who were bold enough to come out to testify on an alleged age-long sexual harassment of female law students against Prof. Cyril Ndifon.
“While we do not consider it expedient to respond to the disturbing things said by the Minister in the said audio, we wish to generally state that, the students of the Faculty of Law, on their own, wrote and submitted a petition and protested against the suspended Dean.
“And, as I know, those who have testified before the panel on both sexual harassment and other violations were not prompted by anyone.
“Let me categorically state here that the sustained orientation my administration has had in the last couple of years has created the atmosphere that inspires confidence amongst students to speak out against exploitation, victimization and harassment of any sort.
“The students should rather be encouraged and the University commended for being on the right path. In greater need of this encouragement are the girls whose educational empowerment is key to their survival in an oppressive and dominant patriarchal culture that yields little or no space for women.
“Having said that, let me appreciate the enormity of the office occupied by my sister, Mrs Uju Kennedy the Honorable Minister, but my responsibility as Vice-Chancellor and those of other well-meaning Nigerians, no matter their office or position in life, are no less important in the building of a greater Nigeria. Indeed, we are all partners in building our nation and serving humanity,” she stated.