From Joshua Chibuzom
Away from the high profile office he occupied, Professor Cyril Ndifon, Dean Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, is cooling his feet in a prison cell.
Ndifon was, on Monday, remanded in prison custody by an Abuja Federal High Court which had the Honourable Justice James Omotosho, in charge.
Until he is granted bail, and perfects terms of the bail, the learned Professor’s new address would remain Kuje Prisons.
His problems began when female Law students of UNICAL, supported by the male students, carried placards to the office of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Florence Obi, in protest against Ndifon. The placards read that they were tired of servicing their Dean; they were tired of satisfying his libido; they asked for a review of the list of graduates sent to the Law School; and the sack of Ndifon. Ndifon was suspended from office.
Thereafter, the Management of UNICAL set up an Investigative Panel which indicted the Professor. Later, he was arrested by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences, ICPC, which is now prosecuting him at the Federal High Court Abuja on sundry issues, including sexual harassment.
ICPC’s Counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle, filed the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/511/23 on Oct. 30, 2023 against Ndifon.
Count one reads that Ndifon, between between June and September 2023, allegedly, gratified himself, using his office and position, and solicited for nude photographs and videos from a year 2 diploma female student of the University through WhatsApp chats on his telephone number: 08037066222. This, the charge said, is contrary to, and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
Count two alleged that the Professor of Law, “corruptly requested for nude photographs and videos from a 400level female student of the Faculty of Law with the plan of changing her project supervisor to himself in order to guarantee favourable grades for her and offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 8(1)(a) (il) of the agency’s Act.”
Count three said that Ndifon allegedly “corruptly requested to see photographs of a 16-year-old prospective post UTME female student, as an inducement to consider her for admission into the Faculty of Law contrary to and punishable under Section 18(d) of the Act.”
Count four reads much the same as Professor Ndifon was accused of “causing a female student to send pornographic, indecent and obscene photographs of herself to him through Whatsapp chats on his telephone number: 08037066222 between May and September 2023, contrary to and punishable under Section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition & Prevention).
He, allegedly, committed the offences while holding an office as a “public officer charged with responsibility for the certification of students as fit in learning and character as a prerequisite for the award of Bachelor’s degree in Law and admission into the Nigeria Law School.
After the charge was read to him, the embattled lecturer pleaded not guilty to the counts.”
The Professor’s Counsel, Okon Efut, SAN, presented Ndifon’s bail application dated Jan. 2 and filed Jan. 3, and appealed to the court to grant his client bail, considering, especially, his health.
He, also, told the Court that there were four other grounds why Ndifon should be considered for bail.
At this juncture, Ndifon spoke from the dock.
He said: “My lord, I was supposed to have an eye surgery on Glaucoma.”
His Counsel told the court that the Professor’s health condition was the reason a Magistrate Court in Calabar admitted him to bail on Oct. 27, 2023, after a 22-day detention.
But Osuobeni Akponimisingha, ICPC’s Lawyer, opposed the application for bail.
On receipt of the process, he said, the Commission filed a counter affidavit dated and filed Jan. 5. He alleged that one of the counsel to Ndifon threatened the Commission’s star witness on phone. He told the Court that they are in possession of the call logs.
Akponimisingha submitted that “one of the cardinal reasons for granting bail was the assurance that a defendant would not interfer with the case.” But he alleged that “the lawyer’s name was in the bail application filed by Efut and that he was also at the court sitting.”
Justice Omotosho asked him if he would wish to respond to the allegation by filing affidavit of facts and he responded in affirmative.
The Lawyer, Anyanwu, who did not deny that he put a call through to Tochi Kanu on phone, said the person he called is different from the names of the four witnesses in the charge and proof of evidence.
“He said: “Tochi Kanu called me. When she called me, I was at Federal High Court here and I said I will call you later through a message.
“It was much hours later I remembered somebody called me and put a call through.
“At that point, there was a network issue and I was saying hello, hello and the call was cut off.
“And that name they (ICPC) called was not in the proof of evidence. They have four witnesses,”
His interest in the matter, he told the Judge, is that Ndifon was his lecturer and that he came as counsel to defend him or support the defence.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Justice Omotosho asked Akponimisingha the name of the person that was called and he responded:
“The name is Tochi Kanu Jane.”
The judge then directed Anyanwu to file his affidavit of facts for the court to decide on the issue. Justice
Omotosho wondered why Ndifon had not gone for the surgery since Oct. 27, 2023, when the magistrate court granted him bail.
Akponimisingha told the court that the medical report was served on them late and they were still verifying its genuineness.
Justice Omotosho, ordered Ndifon to be remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre, adjourned the matter until January 10, 2024 for hearing of the bail application and to enable Anyanwu file the affidavit of facts.