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Court Orders Remand of UNICAL Professor in Kuje Prison


Court Orders Remand of UNICAL Professor in Kuje Prison

A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the remand of Prof. Cyril Ndifon, suspended Dean of Faculty of Law, University of Calabar (UNICAL), who was charged with alleged sexual harassment.

Ndifon, who is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) before Justice James Omotosho, however, pleaded not guilty to the four-count charge.

The ICPC, though its counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle, filed the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/511/23 on October 30, 2023, against Ndifon.

In count one, the defendant was alleged to have, between June and September 2023, used his office and position to gratify himself by soliciting for nude photographs and videos from a year 2 Diploma female student of the university through WhatsApp chats on his telephone number, contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

In count two, the suspended UNICAL lecturer was alleged to have corruptly requested for nude photographs and videos from a 400-level female student of the Faculty of Law with the plan of changing her project supervisor to himself in order to guarantee favourable grades for her and offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 8(1)(a) (il) of the agency’s Act.

In count three, the suspended professor was alleged to have corruptly requested to see photographs of a 16-year-old prospective post-UTME female student, as an inducement to consider her for admission into the Faculty of Law contrary to and punishable under Section 18(d) of the Act.

Count four accused him of causing a female student to send pornographic, indecent, and obscene photographs of herself to him through WhatsApp chats on his telephone number between May and September 2023, contrary to and punishable under Section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition & Prevention) Act, 2015.

These, Ndifon was alleged to have committed while being a public officer charged with responsibility for the certification of students as fit in learning and character as a prerequisite for the award of a Bachelor’s degree in Law and admission into the Nigerian Law School.

After the charge was read to the suspended UNICAL professor, the embattled lecturer pleaded not guilty to the counts.

Ndifon’s counsel, Okon Efut (SAN), took his bail application dated January 2 and filed January 3.

Efut prayed the court to admit his client to bail, particularly on health grounds.

The lawyer also informed the court that there were four other grounds why Ndifon should be granted bail.

Speaking from the dock, Ndifon said: “My lord, I was supposed to have an eye surgery on Glaucoma.”

Efut told the court that it was on the basis of his health condition that the magistrate court in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, admitted him to bail on October 27, 2023, after being in detention for about 22 days.

He said based on the medical report, the surgery was expected to be carried out on January 11.

ICPC lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, opposed the application for bail.

He said on receipt of the process, the commission filed a counter affidavit dated and filed January 5.

The lawyer, who alleged that one of the counsels to Ndifon threatened the commission’s witness on phone, said they were in possession of the call logs.

Akponimisingha argued that one of the cardinal reasons for granting bail was the assurance that a defendant would not interfer with the case.

He further alleged that the lawyer’s name was in the bail application filed by Efut and that he was also at the court sitting.

Justice Omotosho then asked the lawyer if he would wish to respond to the allegation by filing affidavit of facts and he responded in affirmative.

Anyanwu, who admitted calling Tochi Kanu on phone, said the person he called was different from the names of the four witnesses in the charge and proof of evidence.

When the judge asked him his interest in the matter, he said Ndifon was his lecturer and that he came as counsel to defend him or support the defence.

Justice Omotosho then asked Akponimisingha the name of the person that was alleged to have been called.

“The name is Tochi Kanu Jane,” he said.

The judge, therefore, directed Anyanwu to file his affidavit of facts for the court to decide on the issue.

But Omotosho wondered why Ndifon had not gone for the surgery since October 27, 2023, when the magistrate court granted him bail.

Akponimisingha told the court that the medical report was served on them late and they were still verifying its genuineness.

Justice Omotosho, who ordered Ndifon to be remanded in Kuje prison, adjourned the matter until January 10 for hearing of the bail application and to enable Anyanwu filed the affidavit of facts.

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