Behind UNICAL's Protests: Protest Organisers Speak Out on Cyril Ndifon
In the wake of unsettling revelations surrounding the now-suspended dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calabar, Cyril Ndifon, further accusations of misconduct have come to light. On 14th August 2023, some students of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar rallied outside the office of the Vice Chancellor of the institution, calling out their Dean, Prof. Cyril Osim Ndifon with allegations of sexual misconduct among other acts of misconduct stated in the letter of appeal directed to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Florence Obi.
At the time of writing, Ndifon has been suspended for "alleged violation of the provisions of the extant laws and policies" of the institution. In his stead, Rose Ugbe has been appointed as acting dean.
Document Women logged a brief timeline of the outcome following his first indictment, spanning eight years. Ndifon was first indicted on 29 August 2015 for allegedly assaulting a student in his office while she was retaking a test.
In the first part of this story, initial accounts from brave female students showed shared experiences of alleged sexual exploitation by Ndifon. Document Women reached out to the protest organizers, who echoed the victim's claims and extended the accusations to other male lecturers within the same faculty. The protests against Cyril Ndifon show an institution facing an unprecedented call for justice and accountability.
Document Women spoke with the President (Benedict Otu) and Chief Judge (Genevieve Eziama) of the Law Students Association of Nigeria, University of Calabar chapter, who both staged and led the protests that took social media by storm.
As leaders of the student association, they both expressed that it was their obligation to the student body to end the seemingly endless cycle of injustices that soiled the faculty.
The Chief Judge spoke in length on why action needed to be taken, “As a female student who also happens to be in my position within the department, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing about it.”
She explained that she gets cases reported to her often and some she hears about and just has to put a stop to things. She included that most female students who transferred into the faculty were often asked by the Dean to pay “loyalties” to be admitted into the Department, loyalties that often involved agreeing to sexual favours.
She co-signed many claims we gathered from alleged victims, “It’s so true that for a lot of them, he has their personal numbers and even views their status, he keeps them one call away.”
She also co-signed the claims of the involvement of other male lecturers within the Faculty that do the same without remorse “A lot of them are under the Dean’s protection and would often tell students that if they didn’t agree to have sexual relations with them that they would be victimized.”
She stressed that many of the lecturers are aware and some are even complicit.
“No lecturer can say students do not come to them to report these issues, most of them are aware but what can they do? Those who strongly oppose him are often pushed to the back seat and those who are pushed to the forefront are persons who are seeing the things he’s doing as a normality”
She also briefed us on other issues that were raised in the petition:
“Even down to allocation of courses, he allocates courses he knows carry weight to his prodigies or those who don’t speak against what he does, so because those persons have more interactions with the students because they are taking two, three, four courses, all he needs to do to victimise a student is put out the word to these lecturers.
You see where the problem is, he has already positioned them to be in charge of core courses you can’t run away from, this is how he has been able to go on for so long, it is such a depressing and toxic cycle and our administration had to put an end to it”
The President also spoke to us at length about the situation on the ground.
“Right now he has been calling a lot of his victims to threaten them. We haven’t even revealed the identities of those who have come out to speak up against him and he’s already threatening a lot of them, we have recordings of these calls.
I have known Professor Ndifon since 2017, The man is a serial abuser and a bully, even lecturers are scared of him. He has sent some to even come and beg me to drop it.
The day I was elected into office I knew a time like this would come, it was only a matter of patience, Female students would see Ndifon and run and hide for him to pass, we simply could not go on like this."
In regards to other allegations listed in his petition to the Vice Chancellor, he stressed that he had often met with the Dean to try and straighten out irregularities within the faculty but was often met with pushback.
"You can’t imagine the testimonies of a lot of students concerning what they have faced in the hands of Ndifon.” He said.
In conclusion, he briefed us on some of the measures pressure groups and other organisations are taking to ensure that Prof. Cyril Ndifon does not slip away this time.
Sex for Grades is not a two-way street as it is often painted out to be, how often are students willingly offering themselves up? And if they are, it is because such avenues remain available.