The Akwa Ibom State government has set up a committee to investigate the expulsion of a final-year student of the Department of Agricultural Engineering, Iniobong Isang, by the management of the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), Mkpat Enin.
It was gathered that since Isang was expelled from the university on allegation of insulting Governor Udom Emmanuel and visitor to the university, there has been public outcry questioning the maturity and sincerity of the institution in handling sensitive but controversial matters.
The university had admitted that the student appeared before Disciplinary Committee to defend his article which was a “breach” of the matriculation oath and a violation of the university’s extant rules and regulations as enshrined in the Student Information Handbook, Isang, however, denied it, saying that he did not appear before the purported committee.
Isang, who used a pseudonym, Afrosix Jaara, to write the article had accused Emmanuel of reneging on a promise he allegedly made in 2017, to give financial reward to the then graduating students of the university.
“It’s two years and 166 days since he promised, yet none of the beneficiaries had received a dime, even the First-Class graduates of the set were unattended to when they went to his office,” Mr. Isang had written in his Facebook post, adding that Mr Emmanuel may have “scammed” the students.
However, some Nigerians criticised the composition of the committee, noting that since all the people in the committee are all government officials, they were likely to do the biddings of their pay master.
President at Libertas Solicitors (General Law Practitioners), Clifford Thomas, said the government committee is alien to the matter and so lacked the power to superintendent over the case.
He said: “The young man appeared in the committee on Monday. I don’t believe in the committee; they are all government officials. This committee has no place in the case. The committee will only be interested in finding an opportunity to nail him.
“I spoke with the Vice Chancellor of the university not to expel the boy, but to give him a soft landing. He agreed with me. I told him that no Akwa Ibom son or daughter should be witch-hunted.
“The issue at hand is for the young man to appeal to the Senate or the Governing Council of the university.
“And from what I gathered; the guy failed about 70 to 80 per cent of his courses. If he is reinstated, he will need at least two years to complete those courses he carries over.”
A student of the university, who craved anonymity, told our correspondent that the committee should have included members of Civil Liberties Organisation and Nigeria Union of Journalists to guarantee the discernible public of fair, just, and equitable judgment untainted with bias and prejudice.
According to the student, the committee members must not see the said enfant terrible as a sacrificial lamb to justify the saying, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’
The student said that it is improper for a tertiary institution to sacrifice its academic freedom on the altar of primordial interest and self-centredness, which gives every lecturer or student the right to express himself or herself on any thorny issue or criticize any personality within the academic community without incurring the wrath of the school management or the Visitor therein.
He added that the institution has again shot itself in the foot.
In 2019, the institution indefinitely suspended one Joy Nkanang, then a second-year student in the Department of Performing Arts of the university for calling the then Vice Chancellor “foolish” on Facebook over what she saw as his acquiescence and helplessness in handling the debilitating security situation on the campus.
Meanwhile, the management had sacked 14 lecturers on allegation of perpetrating sexual abuse and other acts of misdemeanour.
The current Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nse Essien, is said to have listed that as one of his achievements on the saddle in the 11-year-old institution.