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The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has suspended a senior lecturer in the Department of Archeology and Tourism, Dr Chigozie Odum, for alleged sexual harassment of a female student in his department.
In a letter obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday, dated February 15, 2021, and signed by the Deputy Registrar, Personnel Services Unit, Mrs F. C. Achiuwa, the university ordered the lecturer to stay away from the institution pending the determination of the matter.
The letter, with reference number UNP/SS.11700, and titled, ‘Suspension,’ read in part, “Following the accusation of sexual harassment made against you by a female student in the Department of Archeology and Tourism, the Vice-Chancellor has directed that you be suspended from duty immediately.
“You are hereby so suspended from duty with immediate effect. You should stay away from your duty post until the final determination of the allegation against you. You should also handover any university property in your custody to the Head, Department of Archeology and Tourism.
“The bursar is by a copy of this letter advised to place you on half salary pending final disposal action on your case.”
Our correspondent gathered that the suspension was sequel to a petition to the vice-chancellor by one Chijioke Onah, Sage Fellow, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, titled, ‘Notification of the university on the sexual misconduct and abuse of power by Dr Chigozie Jude Odum of the Department of Archeology and Tourism, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.’
The petitioner, in the letter, dated February 2, 2021, alleged that Odum abused his power as a lecturer to his sister, who is currently a final year student in the Department of Archeology and Tourism, to have carnal knowledge of her.
The letter said, “He (Odum) courted her with threats of the consequences of not accepting his entreaties. To show the evil and wicked mind of Dr Odum — as many parts of this letter will clearly expose — he continues to sleep with my sister even as he secretly plans to get married to another woman. In fact, our internal chronological assessment shows that Odum slept with my sister just a few days before his own marriage.
“That shows the moral bankruptcy and shamelessness of a man who should serve as a teacher, model, and mentor to the University of Nigeria students. What is even more shameful and despicable is the manner in which Dr Odum has conducted himself since the whole episode exploded.
“When the family got to know of the pregnancy in March 2020, we promptly contacted and confronted Dr Odum. Since our sister was already in the later stage of her pregnancy, we didn’t want to inflame the issue for the sake of her safety and the child.
“We also thought that Dr Odum would take advantage of the respect and honour
accorded to him by our family and try to remedy things. Rather, he completely abandoned the family to suffer the injury that he inflicted on us, while he practically returned to business as usual….
“Nearly since the family became aware, Dr Odum has emerged out of this scandal-free, not even suffering the slightest sense of shame, while the family has borne the full responsibility of his actions. But each time Dr Odum gets an opportunity, he threatens the mother of the girl and our family with the prospect of ensuring that our sister will not graduate from the university if this case is reported.”
Onah demanded investigation into the lecturer’s activities in the university, urging the management to ensure his sister’s graduation was not affected.
Efforts to get the reaction of the embattled lecturer were unsuccessful, as he did not take his calls.
Also, he did not respond to a text message sent to his verified phone number as of the time of filing this report.