The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye has been accused of threatening female students of the University of Calabar testifying before the panel investigating allegations of sexual harassment against the suspended Dean of the university’s Faculty of Law, Professor Cyril Ndifon.
The Herald gathered that Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Florence Bisong raised the alarm describing the situation as a disturbing dimension following the minister’s leaked audio message that has gone viral where she was threatening one of the female students with jail, asking her to keep off the case.
The minister in the leaked telephone conversation with one of the girls claiming to have been raped by Ndifon warned the girl that she would go to jail if she lied against Ndifon.
In the audio message, the minister told the female student; “At least you save my number, so soon you will come and visit me, right?” to which the student said, “If my VC approves.”
The minister quickly interrupted her and shouted, “What do you mean by if your VC approves?” But the student in a frightened voice said, “I don’t know na; okay, I will come and visit.”
Continuing the conversation, the minister said, “My dear, I want you to understand something, the day I spoke to you, I told you I recorded it. If your VC makes you go and lie against somebody, you will go to jail. Trust me, I personally will put you in jail.
“I want you to be very careful because your future is at stake. You can’t join anybody and maltreat a fellow human being. I won’t equally want you to be maltreated.
“The day I spoke with you, I recorded what we spoke and you told me the whole truth, and if your VC, because I contacted your VC, I don’t know what her plans are, I don’t want to quote anybody. I don’t equally want to condemn or judge anybody.
“But I want you to be very careful because this thing is going to bring fire. So, be very-very careful. If I were you, as you have already said to me nobody raped you, nobody did sexual harassment, keep off from this case because if she makes you go there, she is recording whatever you people are saying in that panel and if she records you and I bring my own, you got contradicted.
“And this man has gone to court, my ministry will join them and make sure you go to jail so that you will be an example to others.
“So, I want you to be very very careful. This one you are telling me if your VC permits you, there is nothing she can do for you. She is not the one paying your school fees. So, save your future by standing on the truth at all times.
“Save my number. When you have time to visit me, I will find a way to empower you people so that your lives will be easier for you but keep away from things that will…, I am a minister, I’m above her (the VC) by position, you know that.
“So, don’t go and do anything that will put you into very big trouble that will scandalize you in the whole world because this matter has gone far and beyond. I won’t play what you people said to me except you people try to deny it. I have to conceal it as something you told me in confidence but I’m warning you to keep off from lying against anybody.”
Recall that students of the Faculty of Law had, last month carried out a peaceful protest alleging that the Dean of the Faculty, Prof Cyril Ndifon, was sexually molesting them while over 15 victims of the said allegations said they were willing to testify against the suspended Dean in court.
Following the female students’ allegations, the Management of the University of Calabar, suspended Prof Ndifon, for alleged violation of the provisions of the extant laws and policies of the institution.
The suspension, conveyed in a letter by the University Registrar, Mr. Gabriel Egbe, took effect from August 17.
According to the letter, the suspension came on the heels of the Dean’s response to a query earlier issued to him by the University Management. Dissatisfied with his response, the Vice Chancellor, according to the letter, has relieved Prof. Ndifon of his position as Dean and placed him on suspension, while the matter was referred to a panel
‘Stay away from UNICAL’
The letter read: “Please, refer to our letter Ref UC/REG/DISC.45A dated August 14, 2023, on your alleged violation of the provisions of the extant laws and policies of the University and your response to the said letter, which was dated 16th August, 2023. The Vice-Chancellor has gone through your written representations and is not satisfied with your explanations.
“She has, therefore, directed that you should be relieved of your position as Dean, Faculty of Law, and placed on suspension, while the matter is referred to a panel that will be set-up to investigate these allegations.
The relief of position as Dean, Faculty of Law and suspension from official duties takes effect from August 17, 2023. You are to hand over all University property in your possession including all official responsibilities presently handled by you to the Sub-Dean of the Faculty before vacating office.
You are to stay away from the University premises except while responding to an invitation from the panel investigating these allegations,” management stated.
Professor Ndifon was first suspended in 2015 but was later reinstated after police gave him a clean bill after an investigation.