By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
The preening fantasists in the sexual harassment case reported against Dr. Monday Igbafen by a former student of Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, has led to a stand-off, signaling a showdown in the days ahead.
Igbafen, lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, AAU, had been alleged to have suppressed and withheld the lawfully earned result of Miss Itohan Okhihie in a course he taught, thereby preventing miss Itohan Okhihie from graduating at the stipulated time over allegations of abuse of office and sexual harassment between 2011 and 2012.
Both the contents of the correspondences and petitions including a recent panel report released by the institution, which were exchanged between the University and the plethora of petitions authored by the Counsel to embattled lecturer and the Vice Chancellor of the University, has also spilled into the open.
The varsity don who is in the eye of the storm, has also relied on the strength of a petition by J. O Udaze, Esq., and dated March 1, 2019, purporting to be Clients to a former Counsel to the victim of sexual harassment, miss Itohan Okhihie and her mother, Mrs. Eunice Okhihie, said Engr. J. A Okhihie “had no mandate “ from his Clients “to dig and rake into the matter under reference”.
But, one Engr. J. A. Okhihie claiming to be a cousin to Itohan Okhihie, in a petition he personally signed, has warned the university not to sweep the case under the carpet, else, he “will be compelled to petition Edo State Government and anti-graft agencies” to enforce the cause of action.
The management of AAU, has also found solace in the petition from Mrs. Eunice Okhihie, mother of the victim of sexual assault, routed through S. A Uwagbale and Co. law firm, dated February 19, 2019 and addressed to the Vice Chancellor of AAU, titled: “Demand/Pre Action Notice”.
The petitioner, had also requested for the publication of the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee (SSDC) investigative panel’s report on alleged sexual misconduct and abuse of office reported against Dr. Monday Igbafen.
In petition which was made available to our correspondent in Benin, the petitioner, also accused the management of deliberately refusing of to publish the report.
But, the suspended lecturer and Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), AAU Branch, Dr. Monday Igbafen had vehemently denied any wrong doing in the case against him, insisting that the issues had already been dealt with and disposed off since 2011.
He also blamed his travail on his demand for probe into how over N5 billion government grants to AAU was spent under the incumbent Vice Chancellor’s watch, pitted him against him against the management.
But the spokesman of the university, Edward Aihevba, has insisted that Dr. Monday Igbafen who is at the centre of the controversy, has a case to answer to prove his innocence.
He disclosed this during a chat with newsmen in the University at the Weekend where he said Igbafe deliberately held the girl answers’ script and delayed the girl for seven years.
Aihevba who hinted that the panel report, has indicted Dr. Igbafen, said: “Whatever has happened in the past does not alter the facts”.
He said the institution decided to act on the case file which a former Vice Chancellor of the University, late Prof. Cordelia Aigbeku, passed to the substantive Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ignatius Onimawo, to starve-off compromise and the wroth of Independent Corrupt Practices and other related matters Commission (ICPC) and other rights groups.
According to him, the University’s recent action was predicated on the series of letters from concerned authorities asking for the continuing of the case in the interest of justice.
“But I do not know what was in the mind of the administration then.
May be the report was set aside then because he was Chairman of ASUU and the management wanted to respect ASUU. Again, the matter was not handed over to us as a very active issue.
“In the wisdom of the panel at that time, free this girl and let us go and do not allow her suffer even more after seven years.
“Consequently, they used that script to computed her results and she graduated after seven years instead of four years.
“But the investigation, indicted Barr. Igbafen and the report of the investigation is before the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee (SSDC) of the University right now
“The indictment should ordinarily lead to him being arraigned before Senior Staff Disciplinary (SSDC) and once the person is put on suspension, he will begin to receive half salary monthly”, he said.
Miss Itohan Okhihie, is now married and lives abroad.
Our correspondent reports that the twists and turns of events in episodes, had riveted and pushed the institution to a flashpoint, just as the actors named in the scandal are threatening to seek redress in court.