Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
For Dr. Peter Otubu, lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Electronics, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, it was a long walk to victory after he was accused of sexual harassment by a female student, sacked but was recently cleared by a court.
Dr. Otubu alleged that the female student was used by some of his colleagues who felt threatened by his academic excellence to undermine and set him up for the alleged sexual harrassment.
A Magistrate Court in Ekpoma recently sentenced two sisters, Judith Ivie Okosun and Juliet Obehi Okosun to jail terms of two years and one year respectively, for their unlawful detention and indecent assault on Dr. Otubu. They were given options of fines, N20, 000 and N30, 000, respectively.
In an exclusive interview with The Education Report, Dr. Otubu said his trying period was a blessing in disguise.
It is about eight years now since the false accusation, how did you cope?
Well, God has been very faithful and I will not deceive you. I was blessed more than if I were even working. During this period, two out of my four children joined my first and second sons in the USA and they all went to Cambridge College in Manchecusset. During this period I had four grand children and they are all in the USA. What else do I still want from God? God has been very faithful. Do you know what they were speculating last two weeks? That my wife had died and my children abandoned me. Do you want me to call my daughter who is a lawyer that advised me several times in this case before she left for Cambridge College? You will see that God has been very faithful to me.
There is no doubt that some fair-weather friends, you know there are fair-weather friends? So when this thing happened, they thought that was the end. They knew my integrity in the university. To be a chairman of a union for 10 years, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) for 10 years when I was supposed to rule for maximum of four years and a national vice president of SSANU for four years, they know that I have what is called integrity. When I converted to academics, I was a highflyer. I was placed on lecturer II even when I was a Chief Engineer before I converted. It was Professor Agbonlahor who put pressure on me that I should convert. And within six years, I was made a Senior Lecturer and within three years, I had my Ph.D. I was supervised by one of the best, Prof. Philip Kuale. The person I am talking about, in 1965 he made First Class at the University of Sharon-ton and that is where I started having problems with my colleagues. And envy now crept in.
If you look at that video very well that was online in 2010, in fact, it was a set up. Judith Ivie Okosun lived in the same area with me in Ikpoba Hill, Agbor Park. She was the person who came to meet me that she used to see me at Agbor Park and I said yes that is where I live and because of that, she now had access to my office with the younger sister, the second convict, Juliet Obehi Okosun. They come to my office and ask for money. On July 16, a day before this thing happened, she was in my office to complain that she was not feeling fine. I gave her money and went to drop her where she was to write her exams at ETF Hall.
The following day, at about 4:45pm, I got a call that she was seriously ill and that she needed somebody to take her to the health center. I went to her house at Ihumundumun, a private residence not a hostel. We had some boys and some girls and other persons there. Unknown to me, that three cult groups were there- Black Brazier, the Buccaneer and the Black Axe. If you follow Sahara Reporter, go and look at their scripts; the cult boys were congratulating themselves all over the place that Otubu has been dealt with. And so, I fell into their trap. I was between the deep blue sea and the devil. What do I do? I have to obey all their commands. Somebody sexually harassing you and you are asking him to pay you N500,000? I eventually parted with a N100,000. They went and removed the cheque book from my car. And if you check the call log book which was exhibit 1, exhibit h1to h4, go and check, Judith called me 38 times and 12 SMS. Let us forget about the flashes and call me back free card bonus.
Prof Sam Uniamikogbo, the then Vice Chancellor, few days to the judgment, they sponsored a publication against me again. UniamiKogbo said when an academic staff was pursuing a married woman, I was the person they sent to the hotel to arrest the lecturer. I have never worked in the security unit, I am not a policeman. So, how can you now send me to go and arrest a lecturer? He lied bluntly against me. And to tell you, he was in Otuo. Go and check the MTN call log.
He was in Otuo when they started calling him around 6pm. He rushed from Otuo to Ekpoma and met us at the police station. The police had already arrested Judith Ivie Okosun, Juliet Obehi Okosun and one Idahosa Osaigbovo who is now at large. The then DCO Ekenne told me that he is aware of those cult groups they belong to and that they were going to track them down before 2am the following day and as soon as the VC came, he stopped Ekenne from tracking them down.
What was my offence? When he was contesting for the VC position as a member of Senate, I did not support his candidature. Instead, I nominated Prof Samson Remison who acted as VC of the university for one year. He was a deputy director in NIFOR. He was more mature. They were supposed to pick two persons from the Senate to join the Governing Council members to interview Uniamikogbo and others.
Eventually, Uniamikogbo got the job and I became somebody that must be dealt with. Following all the regulations, the Senior Staff regulation states that if a staff is to be arraigned before the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee, he/she be given seven days to prepare his/her defence. I was given less than 14 hours. I have all the records. They did not follow section 22 of the law establishing the university. There is a process of setting up a disciplinary committee.
Adhoc-Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee II is unknown to the law of the university. It is an illegal body and I thanked God, the court said it all. Judith Okosun was convicted for unlawfully detaining me with her sister and the last count was that she assaulted me, striped me naked in the open but they said they don’t know who sent it to the Internet but one Ehime who actually did the video was declared wanted by the police. The police wrote a letter to the university to produce him for thorough investigation but they covered it. He was a Civil Engineering student. I have his picture. He brought the camera they used. The then VC of blessed memory, Prof (Mrs.) Cordelia Agbebaku refused to bring the student out.
How do you feel now that you have been vindicated by the court?
I am relieved; even my Ph.D they tried to stop, they could not stop it. I have a Ph.D in Electrical Power with emphasis on Renewable Energy, a very dry area but needed all over the world. So I just hope that the university will do the needful to pay me all my entitlements and what have you. He is clever. The reason they did that because Judith was their chief witness. The lecturers who were witnesses to the university, were freed on technical ground that MTN refused to divulge the voicemails of their clients but only revealed their call numbers, the time they called, the numbers of minutes they spent but to tell you what the person said, no.
That was the technicality that the lecturers were freed when it was obvious that July 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, there were plethoral of calls between the first accused, fouth accused and the fifth accused persons. This is human judgement. Judgement from God is final. Judith scored 13 per cent in her exam. I did not even know that she took my course because at 400 level, I do not teach Mechanical students. It was when this case started that I decided to look at answer scripts. She scored 13 per cent. They wanted me to pass a student with 13 per cent? And when I refused to pass a student with 13 per cent, she succeeded in luring me to her house and said that I sexually harassed her?
Do lecturers really sexual harass their female students?
There is no doubt that some lecturers are doing it but go and ask, I received five commendations from three VCs. Ask any AAU students between 2003 and 2010, I was in the academics, they will tell you I did not a take kobo from students, what they called blocking or sorting. I do not charge students for projects. In fact, students nicked named me as Headmaster. So, go and ask them. Some students said I am strict while others said I am wicked. It is because I am from a very humble background and nobody took a kobo from me before I went to school.