The National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Calabar, Cross River State, has validated the suspension of the former Dean of Law Faculty, University of Calabar, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, over an alleged sexual assault. Ndifon was on August 29, 2015 accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old 400-level student (name withheld) in his faculty after ordering her to his office.
Following the development, authorities of UNICAL suspended the dean from office. The suspension was to last until he was completely exonerated from the allegations on sexual assault and acts of official misconduct.Not satisfied with the suspension, the embattled professor of law had dragged the university authorities to court in suit no. NICN/CA/01/2016, claiming, amongst others, that the institution had no power to suspend him beyond the statutory three months under the University of Calabar Act, LFN, 2004.
But in a judgment delivered on September 21, 2016 the National Industrial Court, presided over by Justice Eunice Agbakoba, dismissed the suit. Agbakoba said, “The suspension of Ndifon beyond three months was not in any way invalidated under Section 16(2) of the University of Calabar Act.”
She also dismissed the reliefs sought by Ndifon, adding that the professor could not restrain the university from investigating his conduct while in employment. Those who were named as parties in the suit included the vice-chancellor, University of Calabar; Governing Council, University of Calabar and the University of Calabar as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents respectively.
On the possibility of appealing against the judgment, Nachamada referred to the case between Lagos Sheraton Hotel And Towers versus Hotel and Personal Services Senior Staff Association (2014) LPELR -23340 (CA) where it was held that appeal against the decisions of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria “is totally circumscribed.”
He said, “A litigant not satisfied with a judgment of the National Industrial Court can only appeal in cases relating to fundamental rights under chapter IV of the constitution or in criminal cases as they relate to matters upon which the National Industrial Court has jurisdiction, which is not the case in Ndifon’s suit.”