The outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Comfort Ekpo, has asked the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to suspend the inauguration of Enefiok Essien as the new vice chancellor of the university over his indictment by the Court of Appeal for sexual assault and forgery.
Mr. Essien, a 55-year old professor of commercial law and current dean, Faculty of Law, University of Uyo, was appointed by the Governing Council to succeed Mrs. Ekpo as the next vice chancellor of the university on December 1, 2015.
But in a November 17, 2015 letter to the minister of education, Mrs. Ekpo informed Mr. Adamu about the “uneasy calm, tension and anxiety pervading the entire university community” because of Mr. Enefiok Essien’s nomination as the next vice chancellor of the institution.
Mrs. Ekpo said in her letter to the minister, “The situation is consequent upon the widely publicized alleged fractured integrity of the Vice Chancellor-designate, Prof. Enefiok E. Essien.
“I most respectfully submit that the inauguration of the new vice chancellor slated for December 1, 2015 temporarily be suspended to provide a window for any reasonable grievances to be looked into by your ministry and council as may be deemed appropriate.”
The outgoing vice chancellor, who stated that she desired a hitch-free transition from her administration to a new one, said relevant provisions in the law could be invoked in the interim for smooth academic and administrative activities in the university.
PREMIUM TIMES had on November 8, 2015 exclusively reported about the indictment of Mr. Essien in 2005 by the Court of Appeal, Calabar, for sexual assault on a female law student, Linda Onyebuchi Essell.
Mr. Essien was then a senior lecturer when the reported sexual assault took place in 1995, while Ms Essell was doing her second year.
Ms. Essell, expelled from Uniuyo in 1997 for examination malpractice, had accused Mr. Essien of manipulating the university system against her because she refused to accede to his love overtures.
It was Mr. Essien, who invigilated Ms. Essell in the examination. It was him who accused her of examination malpractice. It was also him who chaired the Examination Malpractice Panel that tried Ms. Essell and also recommended her expulsion from the university.
“Sometimes in April, 1995 around 1pm, Essien, after our lectures on Contract of which he was the lecturer, summoned me to his office. He told me that I had the last opportunity to redeem my career which was billed for a doom by expulsion if only I could accede to his simple love overtures which will take nothing from me,” Ms. Essell said in her affidavit before the Federal High Court, Calabar, which nullified her expulsion.
Mr. Essien was also accused of forging the signature of one of the panel members as well as doctoring the panel’s proceedings.
The university had appealed against the judgment. But the Court of Appeal, Calabar, in affirming the judgment of the lower court went on to say that Ms. Essell’s statements as contained in her affidavit were “serious indictment on Essien”.
Since there was no counter-affidavit by Mr. Essien, the court in its unanimous decision, held that Ms. Essell’s allegations “not having been challenged, contradicted and controverted, must be deemed to be true and correct”.
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.