The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel has directed the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) to reinstate a final year student of the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Iniobong Ekpo who was expelled for “insulting” him on Facebook
The decision on the student’s reinstatement was taken at the State Executive Council meeting in Uyo, on Thursday, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Ini Ememobong said in a statement.
“EXCO (Executive Council) reviewed the AKSU expulsion case of Iniobong Ekpo and directed the university to immediately recall the said student,” the statement said.
The student, Mr Ekpo had used a pseudonym, Afrosix Jaara, to make a Facebook post in 2019 in which he accused the governor 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 authorities of the Akwa Ibom State University considered the article as “derogatory and defamatory” to Mr Emmanuel who by virtue of his office is the ‘Visitor’ to the university which is owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government.
Mr Ekpo, through his lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, challenged his expulsion and demanded N20 million from the university as “general damages and gross breach of his fundamental human rights”.
The controversy that followed the expulsion, especially on social media, prompted Mr Emmanuel to set up a committee headed by the Commissioner for Education, Idongesit Etiebiet, to review the university’s action.
The directive for the student’s reinstatement may have been based on the committee’s recommendation, apparently.
‘Reinstatement not enough’
Mr Ekpo’s lawyer, Mr Effiong said there were other demands the university would have to meet, besides reinstating the student.
“My position is that we had our demand clear to the university that he should be reinstated immediately, compensated with N20 million for damages and that he should also be given a special concession to write all his courses and tests that he couldn’t write on account of indefinite suspension and expulsion.
“Those are essentially the main demands that I made in my reaction notice to the university,” Mr Effiong told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday night.
Mr Effiong said the university should give a guarantee that his client would not be victimised.
The lawyer said the student had been “subjected to trauma and mental torture on account of unconstitutional decision by the University Senate”.
He said he did not rule out going to the court to enforce the other demands.
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately reach the student for comment as his phone line was switched off as of the time of filing this report.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Akwa Ibom State University, Akaninyene Ibanga, said the university would “act” when the government decision is communicated to it.
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