The sex harassment claim leading to the suspension of the Chairman of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr Monday Igbafen, by the institution has taken a new twist with the family of the woman allegedly sexually harassed by the lecturer demanding an apology from the school.
The AAU in its February 13, 2019 News Bulletin announced the suspension of the philosophy lecturer after he was accused of gross misconduct bordering on sexual harassment and threats of marks for sex allegedly targeted against Itohan Okhihie in 2011. However, Igbafen vehemently denied the allegations, insisting he was being blackmailed by the authorities over his stand against some alleged shady deals in the school.
One J.A. Okhihie had in a petition to the school on behalf of the Okhihie family, demanded punishment for Igbafen for allegedly demanding sex for marks from their daughter.
But the Okhihie family have disowned the alleged petitioner, describing him as faceless.
They also denied asking the university to reopen investigation into the case which according to them was resolved in 2011.
Lawyer for the family, J.O. Udaze, in a petition dated March 1, 2019 and addressed to the institution said his clients were shocked that the case was reopened in 2018/2019 by “wicked and malevolent elements who have purposes of their own to serve”.
According to the petition, the matter is threatening Itohan Omoike’s marriage.
The petition reads in part, “There is no J.A. Okhihie in my clients’ family and the said J.A. Okhihie had no mandate from my clients to dig and rake into the matter under reference which to my clients is as dead.”
The family, therefore, urged the university to retract “all embarrassing publication” concerning them, especially Mrs Itohan Omoike, née Okhihie.
The family also demanded an apology and compensation from the university.
But spokesman for the school, Mr Edward Aihevba, a Deputy Registrar, said a preliminary investigation after the student reported the matter revealed that Igbafen deliberately withheld the student’s answer script for seven years.
Aihevba said the university launched the investigation after the student reported the lecturer to the school in 2011.
He alleged that the suspended ASUU chair denied knowledge of the student’s answer script. However, he said the said answer script was later found in the lecturer’s office.
But Igbafen said, “Ask the Vice-Chancellor when this issue of sexual harassment happened. The issue at stake is an attempt to cow me and the union.”
He alleged that the union members were being intimidated by the VC, Prof Ignacious Onimawo, for questioning the illegal award of contracts and undue promotion of friends and family members without following due process.
Meanwhile, Igbafen has petitioned the police over alleged forgery and criminal defamation by Onimawo.
In his letter to the state Commissioner of Police, the lecturer claimed J.A. Okhihie’s petition against him was forged, calling for an investigation into the matter.