LECTURER, ADMIN OFFICER CHARGED TO COURT OVER DEFAMATORY REMARKS AGAINST UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR

A university lecturer in Akwa Ibom State has been arraigned before a magistrate in Uyo for alleged defamatory remarks on Facebookagainst the vice-chancellor of his school.

The lecturer, Eyo Eminue, teaches Political Science at Akwa Ibom State University, Mkpat Enin.

He was arraigned on a three-count charge on Wednesday alongside an administrative officer, directorate of information in the school, Iquo Okon. They were accused of defaming the character of the vice-chancellor, Eno Ibanga, on Facebook.

Both Mr Eminue, 39, and Mrs Okon, 46, were arrested and detained by the police before their arraignment. Their mugshots have been published on Twitter.

The police told the court that the duo created a Facebook page called “SOS – Akwa Ibom State University/Government Pay Our Salaries” which they allegedly used in defaming the character of the vice-chancellor, Mr Ibanga.

“Farewell to a nasty, vindictive, wicked, heartless, shameless, most corrupt and the worst VC AKSU has ever produced” is among some of the remarks, the police said the two officials made against the vice -chancellor.

They were granted N3 million bail and the case adjourned to June 8, 2020.

The Facebook page referenced by the police in the charge sheet seems to have been created to put pressure on the vice-chancellor and the university management to pay some of its workers their 16 months salaries.

There was nothing in the Facebook page that indicated it was created or owned by the two university officials.

Mr Eminue and Mrs Okon are, however, said to be among over 200 workers, both teaching and non-teaching staff, hurriedly recruited in 2014 to enable the university meet the requirement for accreditation with the National Universities Commission.

It became problematic afterward to perfect their contract with the university, therefore creating a backlog of unpaid salaries, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

The university spokesperson, Akaniyene Ibanga, declined comment when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him, Thursday afternoon.

The vice-chancellor, Mr Ibanga did not respond to calls and text messages to his phone line.

Imeh Okop, the head of the local branch of the lecturers’ union in the school told PREMIUM TIMES that it is true some of the lecturers in the school were owed for that long. He said the union has taken up the salary issue “several times” with the university management but that “nothing” has come out of it.

Mr Okop said he has briefed the national leadership of the union on the arrest and arraignment of Mr Eminue.

Mr Eminue, the son of a renowned professor of Political Science in Akwa Ibom State, Okon Eminue, is a former student union president of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

He was the second runner up in the season three edition of the MTN Project Fame, a music talent TV reality show in West Africa.

Before now, he was almost sacked from the school when the vice-chancellor made him appear before a panel for writing an open letter appealing to the university management to pay them their salary arrears, but for the intervention of the lecturers’ union in the school, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Student suspended for calling vice-chancellor “foolish” on Facebook

Akwa Ibom State University in 2019 suspended a female student indefinitely for calling the vice-chancellor, Mr Ibanga, “foolish” on Facebook. She was barred from participating in lectures or entering the university campuses. The student was later recalled.

A lecturer in the university told PREMIUM TIMES the vice-chancellor has some university staff and students who monitor social media on his behalf and regularly report to him.

The university, founded in October 2000, is owned by Akwa Ibom State.