Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Madonna University in Nigeria is presently locked in a battle of wits with the House of Representatives Committee on Public Complaints and Petitions over a complaints brought before it by two former students of the institution.
The university which was founded by a renowned Catholic priest, Rev. Father Emmanuel Ede, with three campuses in Elele in Rivers State; Okija in Anambra State and Akpugo in Enugu State, said the committee is dabbling into a matter that is before the court.
Two former students of the university, Stanley Okoye and Ga-Lim Andofa Lord, had petitioned the House of Representatives, alleging abuse of their fundamental right by the institution.
But before petitioning the House, the former students had sued Madonna University and lost with the court ruling in favour of the institution.
The Vice Chancellor of the Madonna University, Prof. Chuks Ezedum, who addressed a press conference in Abuja yesterday, alleged that the students twisted facts in their bid to win sympathy from the committee.
He said contrary to the student’s claim on abuse of their rights, Madonna University merely meted out disciplinary actions against the students having found them culpable of vices such as examination malpractices and drug abuse.
Ezedum alleged that: “At several times in the past, the students had been found culpable of vices such as examination malpractices, drug abuse and distribution, including academic failure which led to rustication, suspension and loss of an academic year.
“It is noteworthy that the two former students in question, Stanley Okoye and Ga-Lim Andofa Lord, in 2015, instituted a civil suit at the Enugu Division of the Federal High Court against Madonna University in which they alleged a violation of their fundamental right and sought several reliefs.”
Ezedum faulted the decision of the House Committee to dabble into a matter that has been adjudicated by the court and resolved in favour of Madonna University.
While explaining the beginning of the problem with the two former students, the vice chancellor said they had violated several rules of the university for which the institution meted out appropriate disciplinary actions against them.
Ezedum also said the affected students were linked to cult activities and violent attack against the chief security officer of the institution.
He said it was the parents of the students that took the institution to court even while the authorities of the university were trying to apply the internal mechanism to resolve the matter.
Speaking on the petition before the House Committee, Ezedum said the university is of the view that going ahead with probe on a matter that is before the court would be subjudice.
He also accused the Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Uzoma Abonta, of exhibiting moral bias when he boasted that he would go on with the hearing of the matter irrespective of the cases in court.
According to the VC, even though the institution took a principled position not to attend the committee sitting, invitations to its hearing were deliberately made in a manner that it would not get to the university on time.
He said the institution as a law-abiding entity would want the House to allow the matter that is already court to run its full course before getting involved.