A student expelled by Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden, has given the university authorities seven days to restore his studentship or face legal actions.
The student, Iniobong Ekpo, was in his final year at the Department of Agricultural Engineering when he was expelled for publishing a “derogatory and defamatory article” in 2019 on Facebook against the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
He was first suspended indefinitely from studies before his expulsion two months ago.
Mr Ekpo used a pseudonym, Afrosix Jaara, to write the article in which he accused Mr Emmanuel of reneging on a promise he allegedly made in 2017 to give financial reward to the then graduating students of the university.
“It’s 2 years and 166 days since he promised, yet none of the graduands received a naira even the first class graduands were unattended to when they went to his office,” Mr Ekpo wrote in the Facebook post, adding that Mr Emmanuel may have “scammed” the students.
The governor by virtue of his office is the ‘Visitor’ to the university which is owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The university, in the expulsion letter, said Mr Ekpo’s article was a “breach” of the matriculation oath and a violation of the university rules and regulations enshrined in the Student Information Handbook.
The university said the student had appeared before a disciplinary committee.
‘No fair hearing’
But Mr Ekpo, through a letter written to the university by his lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said the university authorities did not give him fair hearing.
He said he was never invited to appear before a disciplinary committee before his suspension.
Apart from challenging his expulsion, the student is demanding N20 million from the university as “general damages and gross breach of his fundamental rights.”
The lawyer, in his letter to the university, said he was not aware of any lawsuit by Governor Emmanuel against the student over the alleged “defamatory” Facebook post.
“We will like to know whether the Matriculation Oath Of the Akwa Ibom State University requires students to surrender their fundamental right to freedom of expression as guaranteed them by Section 39 of the Constitution Of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) upon admission into the University?” the lawyer also said in the letter.
Mr Ekpo told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday, that he has no regret about his actions. He vowed to pursue the case in the court no matter how long it would take.
The spokesperson for the university, Akaninyene Ibanga, refused to comment on the matter when this newspaper contacted him.
This is not the first time a student of the university has been punished over a Facebook post.
PREMIUM TIMES reported in 2019 how Joy Nkanang, then a second year student in the Department of Performing Arts in the Akwa Ibom State University, was suspended from studies indefinitely for calling the vice chancellor “foolish” on Facebook.
Ms Nkanang was later recalled by the university.