HomePoliticsSexual Harassment Case Against UNICAL Dean Stalls in Court

Sexual Harassment Case Against UNICAL Dean Stalls in Court

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The trial of a suspended law professor from the University of Calabar (UNICAL) accused of sexually harassing a student has been adjourned until February 27 by a federal high court in Abuja.
Professor Cyril Ndifon, the former dean of the faculty of law at UNICAL, and his lawyer, Sunny Anyanwu, are facing charges of sexual harassment and gratification, as well as cybercrime, brought by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The ICPC alleges that Ndifon forced a 22-year-old female student, identified as TKJ, to perform oral sex on him in exchange for admission into the university in 2015. The commission also claims that Ndifon and Anyanwu threatened the witness not to cooperate with the investigation.
Ndifon has denied the allegations, saying that he and TKJ were in a “love” relationship and that the evidence against him was obtained illegally. He has filed a no-case submission, asking the court to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence and jurisdiction.
The defense team, led by Joe Agi (SAN), argued that the ICPC violated Ndifon’s right to privacy by breaking into his phone without a court order and accessing his WhatsApp chats, nude videos, phone calls, and text messages with TKJ and other contacts.
Agi also contended that the ICPC did not follow due process in initiating the case, as TKJ was not listed as a complainant or a witness in the original charge, but only appeared after the charge was amended. He also questioned why the registrar of UNICAL, who was listed as a witness in the original charge, was not listed in the amended one.
Agi further challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case, citing sections of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2020 and the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 that prevent the court from entertaining any of the offences brought.
The prosecution, however, maintained that it had presented sufficient evidence to prove its case, including the testimony of TKJ, who said she was coerced by Ndifon to perform oral sex on him out of “shame” and “fear”. The prosecution also relied on the testimony of an ICPC official, Lucy Ogechi Chima, who said a forensic analysis of Ndifon’s phone revealed nude photos of several contacts, including TKJ. The prosecution also fielded an exhibit keeper and a forensic analyst, Fungo Bwaigu, who confirmed the findings of the phone analysis.
The judge, Justice James Omotosho, adjourned the case till February 27 for the adoption of written addresses on the no-case submission by both parties.
The case has attracted public attention and sparked debate on the issue of sexual harassment in Nigerian universities, where many students have reported cases of abuse and exploitation by lecturers and staff. The Nigerian government has recently passed a bill to criminalize sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and impose stiff penalties for offenders.
The bill, which is awaiting presidential assent, aims to protect students from sexual harassment and promote a safe and conducive learning environment for all.
Source: Tribune Online

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