Council absolves MOUAU VC of allegations of sexual harassment

Posted by News Express | 6 February 2020 | 531 times

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•MOUAU VC, Prof. Francis Otunta

The Governing Council of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), has absolved the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the institution, Prof. Francis Otunta, of sundry allegations of intimidation and sexual harassment by Dr. Patricia Mbah, berated one of its members, Dr. Nelson Amanze Udenze, for allegedly calling for the dissolution of the Council and removal of the Vice-Chancellor from office.

Rising from a two-day emergency meeting at the institution Tuesday night, the Council dismissed petitions by Mbah and Udenze against the Vice Chancellor, describing them as “frivolous, malicious and unfounded.”

Briefing newsmen at the end of the Council’s deliberations, its Chairman, Rt. Hon. Lawal Zayanna, said the emergency meeting was specifically called to deliberate on the petitions.

Mba’s prayers in her petition included warning Otunta to stop his incessant sexual harassment and threat to her job and life, restoration of her salary illegally withheld by the Vice Chancellor as well as restoration of her Professorial seat.

Udenze, in his petition, prayed for the intervention of the Minister of Education to save MOUAU from academic collapse, dissolution of the Governing Council and constitution of a new one to look into the cases he raised, and suspension of the Vice Chancellor from office.

News Express reports that Mbah’s petition which went viral on the social media, accused the Vice Chancellor of victimisation, saying she officially travelled overseas for medical treatment but the VC stopped her salary and equally demoted her from her Professorial seat. The petition detailed how the VC’s was allegedly sexually harassing her incessantly, among others.

Controversies generated by Mba’s allegations have hardly died down when another damaging allegation which author was not mentioned took over the Social Media space, accusing the Vice Chancellor of impregnating a Third Year student, promoted her to Final Year, graduated her without due process and sent her abroad to cover the act.

After interacting with the petitioners and the Vice Chancellor and deliberating on the  issues raised in the said petitions, the Pro-Chancellor said the Council noted that Mbah travelled out of the University without due authorisation for 42 days, that the University handled her case of absence without authorisation with leniency and restored her salary.

By the laws of MOUAU, Mbah ought to have been dismissed for being absent from duty for 21 days without authorisation, Zayanna explained, adding that her demotion from the rank of a professor was occasioned by a proper placement of over 100 staff ordered and overseen by the University Council, not the Vice Chancellor, as directed by the Minister of Education following infractions committed by the immediate past administration,

He added that Mbah could not substantiate her allegation of incessant sexual harassment against the Vice Chancellor when she was interview by the Council.

With regard to Udenze’s petition, the Council noted that it was curious for the varsity don who has all along been part of all the Council’s decisions to turn around and deny all the decisions he took part in taking, adding that Council was not aware of any infractions committed by it as Udenze never at any time, tendered any petition to the Council on any area of disagreement with it.

Council therefore noted that his calls for its dissolution and removal of the Vice Chancellor from office “constitute embarrassment to the Council and unexpected of a member of his status,”

Following their findings, Zayanna advised the public to disregard the petitions which, he said, “were targeted at casting aspersions and damaging the image of MOUAU, himself and Otunta.

The Council, therefore, passed a vote of confidence on the Pro-Chancellor and the VC and adopted the report of an investigation by the University Senate which cleared the VC of the allegation of putting a student in the family way. 

Source: News Express

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