A Nigerian lecturer who has been victimised for almost two decades for speaking up against corruption and maladministration in a university, is dying of cardiac failure, according to a medical report.
PREMIUM TIMES broke the news, October 5, about the lecturer, Inih Ebong’s illness and his need for urgent help.
Mr Ebong has been out of job for so long and without any alternative source of income, he does not have the money to pay for medical bills or even feed himself and his family.
He was an associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo, when his appointment was unlawfully terminated in 2002. Akpan Ekpo and Peter Effiong were the vice-chancellor and registrar of the institution respectively at the time.
Three successive vice-chancellors of the university have refused to reinstate him, despite an unbroken string of victories at different courts.
Mr Ebong, before his sack, had a running battle with Messrs Ekpo and Effiong, who saw him as a thorn in their side for speaking up regularly against alleged maladministration and corruption in the school.
Mr Ebong’s physician, Ime Essien, in a medical report issued on October 8, said the lecturer was brought to the hospital, Prime Clinic, Uyo, in November 2019 because of “recurrent leg swelling and shortness of breath of about nine years duration”.
“He had earlier been managed at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital for congestive cardiac failure secondary to rheumatic cardiomyopathy,” the doctor said.
Mr Essien, a consultant cardiologist, said a medical examination he did on Mr Ebong revealed he had “fluid retention, including scrotal oedema”.
“He was managed conservatively and discharged after spending one month in hospital. Since then, he has been in and out of hospital as his health continues to deteriorate,” the doctor said.
Mr Ebong’s last visit to the hospital was on October 7, 2020.
“Recent 2D Echo showed that all cardiac chambers were dilated with very poor left ventricular systolic function with ejection fraction of 35 % in a setting of severe mitral regurgitation. Severe tricuspid regurgitation and mild pulmonary hypertension were noted. He also had mild pericardial effusion.
“He is currently being managed with antifailure regimen and anticoagulation for the Atrial Fibrillation. He is still in hypotension with blood pressure of 80/60 mmHg,” the medical report stated.
“At this stage, he will be a poor candidate for cardiac valve replacement. I suggest he continues on conservative management. However, cardiac transplantation can be considered,” the report concluded.
Mr Ebong has been receiving lots of goodwill and financial support from Nigerians nationwide since PREMIUM TIMES published the story of his illness.
The authorities of the University of Uyo, however, appear unperturbed over the lecturer’s condition.
“It would be a shame, the blood of Dr Inih Ebong will be on the management, will be on the Senate and the Governing Council of the University of Uyo if Dr Inih Ebong dies, without getting justice,” said a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who flew in from Lagos recently to show sympathy and solidarity with the lecturer.
Mr Effiong, with his phone, did a live Facebook broadcast at Mr Ebong’s home in Uyo, where he passionately appealed for people’s intervention and support for the ailing lecturer.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Enefiok Essien, is a professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Mr Effiong, in his broadcast, reminded Mr Essien of the oath he took before the Supreme Court when he was given the award of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to defend the law and human rights.
“If this case is not resolved in your tenure, who else would resolve it?” he said.
“I am appealing to Professor Enefiok Essien, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who was my dean when I was a student in the faculty of law, to please temper justice with mercy.
“I know this did not start in your time, but history will remember you if you resolve this case.
“You don’t need to spend money on litigation, the money you could use in building and equipping libraries for the students,” he added.
The lawyer appealed to the Akwa Ibom State Government, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, and other members of the public to intervene in Mr Ebong’s case.
He publicised Mr Ebong’s bank account details and appealed for financial support to enable the lecturer to get urgent medical care.
Mr Ebong, who looked terribly emaciated and could barely talk, thanked Mr Effiong for the visit.
He told the lawyer how he almost got a teaching appointment with a university in Australia but for a public disclaimer on him by the University of Uyo.
“It’s so sad. He gave me admission then to study theatre arts,” a Facebook user, Blessing Mbakwe, commented on Mr Effiong’s broadcast. “He was a good lecturer.”