A group, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to halt the appointment of Prof. Eniefiok Essien as the new vice chancellor of the University of Uyo over a court indictment for sexual assault and forgery.
CSNAC, whose petition to the minister is based on a PREMIUM TIMES report on the indictment of Mr. Essien by the Court of Appeal, Calabar, Cross River State in 2005, doubted the integrity of the 55-year-old professor of commercial law to head the university.
The petition was also sent to the National Universities Commission.
Mr. Essien, who is the current dean, Faculty of Law, Uniuyo, was recently appointed by the governing council of the university to succeed Prof. Comfort Ekpo as the next vice chancellor of the university on December 1, 2015.
“A university ought to be a citadel of learning where world class citizens are produced. In other to achieve this role, it should be headed by respectable member of the society or academia with proven track record and untainted character,” CSNAC said in a petition signed by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
“The personality to occupy that important office of Vice Chancellor must be with unimpeachable integrity.”
The group said it would ridicule the ‘change’ campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari if Mr. Essien is allowed to become the vice chancellor of Uniuyo.
The group also threatened to sue the Nigerian government if the minister of education failed to take action on the matter or refuses to act on its petition.
PREMIUM TIMES had on November 8, 2015 reported how Mr. Essien, in 1995, then a senior lecturer in the faculty of law, seemingly manipulated the university system against a female law student, Linda Onyebuchi Essell who was accused of examination malpractice.
Ms. Esell was eventually expelled from Uniuyo, even as she alleged that she was victimised because she refused to accede to her lecturer’s (Mr. Essien) love overtures.
Ms. Essell sued the university at the Federal High Court, Calabar, which quashed her expulsion. But the university appealed against the judgment.
The Appeal Court, Calabar, in affirming the judgment of the lower court, said Ms. Essell’s allegations of sexual harassment and forgery as contained in her affidavit were “serious indictment on Essien”.
The Court of Appeal further held that the allegations against Essien “must be deemed to be true and correct” since they were not challenged or contradicted by Essien.
The Pro-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Kimse Okoko, had confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the institution’s governing council received a petition against Mr. Essien after the selection process had ended.
Mr. Okoko said the allegations against Mr. Essien, as contained in the court judgment, were brought to the notice of the university Governing Council, in which he (Okoko) is chairman, after the council had concluded its work on the appointment of a new vice chancellor for the university.
Mr. Okoko said at the time the petition came, it was too late for the council to investigate the allegations against Mr. Essien.
“I still confronted him (Essien) when I got the petition against him, and he told me that the whole court case took place when he was away in the UK for his Ph.D,” Mr. Okoko told PREMIUM TIMES.[Premium Times]