Prof Patricia Mbah, a 57-year-old lecturer at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) in Abia State, has reacted to a statement released by the institution’s registrar and secretary of the senate’s council, Mrs Jacinta N. Ogwo-Agu on the school’s Vice Chancellor Prof Francis Otunta being cleared of sexual harassment allegation she made against him.
Recounting her ordeal in an exclusive interview with LIB, Prof Mbah disclosed that she was among the panel constituted by the school’s senate to interview Prof Otunta before he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of the school after Prof Hilary Edeoga’s tenure ended. She revealed that Prof Otunta resumed duty on March 1, 2016 after being interviewed on November 5, 2015.
According to the lecturer, the VC told her he will love to work with her because of the intelligence she exhibited during the interview prior to his appointment after which he reneged. Shortly after that, she was allegedly victimized by Prof Otunta on grounds of refusing to be “his intimate friend”.
Asides accusing the Vice Chancellor of sexually harassing her, Prof Mba recounted an “insensitive” comment Prof Otunta allegedly made after she became ill. She recalled Prof Otunta laughing and telling her to check if she did not stain the chair she sat on during a meeting with her menstrual bleeding. The continous bleeding led to a hysterectomy surgery she underwent in 2019.
She also recounted being accused of embezzling N11m meant for the school, stealing INEC materials after being appointed as a member of an Ad-Hoc election team and being disgraced at general meetings of Deans and HODs which all “emanated from an alleged hatred best known to the Vice-Chancellor.”
The harassament allegation among other things were captured in a letter addressed to the Council Chairman of the Institution on September 13, 2019.
See the documents made available to LIB below;
The female lecturer who debunked allegations of launching a vendetta against Prof Otunta after being disciplined according to the University’s rules over an alleged misconduct, stated that he’s yet to be cleared of the sexual harassment allegation.
According to her, the panel constituted by the university to investigate the allegation is yet to meet and also to interview her. On claims of absconding from her duty without due authorization, Prof Mbah produced documents which backed her claim of being granted 8 weeks leave by the medical director of the University’s hospital.
See the documents below;
Speaking to LIB in a phone conversation, Prof Mbah revealed that that her salary has not been paid for over 7 months by the University after being demoted to the rank of Associate Professor, 4 years after being a Professor.
He has been harassing me in several ways since I refused to be his friend in a more intimate manner, I had to put in all the evidence in writing. Him saying ‘I cannot go there or do this’ because I refused to be friend, is that not sexual harassment? Is it until Otunta kills me that people will know he is harassing me?
I had a hysterectomy surgery which is a major surgery, rather than him permitting me to treat myself, he kept quiet. After treating myself and coming back to the school, he said I absconded without permission. I was in the University’s medical clinic, the university’s medical director permitted me for 8 weeks.
I came back after five weeks and I wrote a letter stating that I am back to the classroom and feeling well, Otunta still went ahead to seize my salary. I went to meet him to restore my salary, I don’t know what he conjured and I sat on for like two hours. I was rushed to Madonna hospital here in Umuahia, all the medical reports are available. Otunta has harassed me beyond keeping quiet at my age. There are so many things I wouldn’t have wanted to say but I can’t continue dying in silence.
You can call the Ministries of Education, Women Affairs, Agriculture, ICPC and National Council of Women Societies to confirm, so who cleared Otunta? Nobody cleared Otunta, the council has not met on my case that is why that matter is going public. If the council met on my case, the issue would have been resolved and nobody will hear about it. I’ve been to the office of the registrar that released that statement more than 4 times, asking her that my case should be listened to. I can also share screenshots of my conversations on Whatsapp with her. A member of council constituted by the university also wrote a petition against the council.
Here are screenshots of Prof Mbah’s petition to some federal parastatals over an alleged illegal seizure of her salary, victimization and sexual harassament pepetrated against her by Prof Otunta.
Here are screenshots of the Whatsapp conversations Prof Mbah had with the Registrar, prior to the statement she released on Sunday January 26, on Prof Otunta being cleared by the council.
Dr Isaac Udensi, a member of the panel constituted to investigate the allegation also corroborated claims of them not meeting on the case. He accused the Vice Chancellor of being a fraudster as he disclosed that there are other women who also accused him of sexual harassment before Prof Mbah made same allegation.
Udensi said the salaries of these women were allegedly withheld by Prof Otunta who reportedly started paying them after Prof Mbah also accused him of same.
Speaking to LIB, he said;
The panel didn’t meet, there is nothing like that. That man is a fraudster. There was no clearance given to him, the matter has not been investigated. I even petitioned and that was one of the ingredients he was judged with. He made a frivolous statement behind us.
There are other women whose salaries he is holding. It is because of Patricia’s case that he started paying those women. Those other women refused to speak. We’ve looked for a way for those women to come up with their stories, they refused saying he threatened to kill them.
Another Professor and member of the University’s senate who pleaded anonymity, also backed claims of the panel not meeting on the case. He added that if such meeting held, the registrar should produce the minutes when the matter was discussed, leading to the alleged clearance of Prof Otunta.
There was nothing like that. Let the registrar produce the minutes of the meeting when the panel was constituted, let her also produce the minutes of the meeting where the matter was discussed in the senate and he was cleared.
On if there other women that accused the VC of sexual harassment, the Professor said;
There were other allegations, but it was never treated to this level. Even when she wrote the council, the matter had already gotten to the Federal Ministry of Education so who cleared him? There are many sexual harassment allegation against him but we don’t know which one is true and is not. What the Ministry of Education should do is to look into all the petitions, resolve it and also let the public know about the cases.
At the time of filing this report, the University’s registrar Dr Jacinta N. Ogwo-Agu and Vice Chancellor Prof Otunta were yet to return LIB’s calls. It was also gathered that Mbah’s lawsuit against the Institution’s Vice Chancellor will be heard at the National Industrial Court in Owerri, Imo State’s capital on February 3.