Prof Mrs Patricia Etuna Mbah, an internationally certified (IPHE) Home Economist has decried sexual harassment and stoppage of her salary by Prof. Francis Otunta the vice chancellor of Michael Okpara University Umudike.
Narrating her ordeal, Prof Mbah said that the vice chancellor stopped her salary since April 2019 because she refused to yield to his sexual advances and had made good his threats of making her stay in the University hell if she continues to reject his advances by stopping her salaries.
The professor of home economics stated that it all started shortly after Prof. Francis O. Otunta was made the Vice Chancellor, having served as one of the panelist that interviewed and certified him as being qualified. Upon assumption of office, Prof. Otunta proposed my name as the Deputy Vice Chancellor and when that could not workout he approached me and requested that we became lovers, a request I politely turned down and told him that I am a married woman, a grandmother and devoted Christian.
I had expected a man of that status to respect my decision having politely rejected his amorous advances, but he had gone ahead to intimidate, harass and afflict me with all manners of wickedness and at various times had tried to force me into sleeping with him.
In one occasion Prof. Otunta invited me to his office pulled down his trousers and tried to force himself on me right inside the office, I resisted and push him down, opened the door and ran away.
A similar incident also happened when I came back from the hospital after my treatment and discovered that my salary had been stopped despite obtaining all the necessary approvals from my HOD and other relevant authorities with documentary evidence to be away on medical vacation. when I came back I was told that the VC had ordered that my salary should be stopped, I went to his office to find out why, he delayed me from 10 am till about 5:30pm in the evening and when everybody had left, he proceeded to make sexual moves towards me right inside his office and I had to ask him if he was human to have contemplated having sex with a woman in my medical condition. He said he doesn’t care that all he wants is to have me and that he must achieve it or I should be ready to receive more punishment from him. With tears in my eyes I turned the door keys open and ran out of his office, He had also invited me to different hotels which I turned down. On one of the occasions I had to go with my husband and on seeing my husband he was visibly angry.
He had at various times threatened my life, a case in point was when his orderly Mr. Progress Ibor, made telephone calls to me warning me of immediate danger and likely death, if I do not leave the University. I had to report to the former commissioner of police Abia State, Mr. Adeleye Oyebade who investigated the matter and made him sign an undertaking that should anything happen to me he will be held responsible
Since then Prof. Otunta had gone ahead to live up to his promise of making life miserable for me in the university.
Beyond stopping my salaries, he had also gone ahead to remove me as Head of Department, forced me to resign as chairman of exams and time table committee. As if that was not enough he went ahead to demote me from being a Professor to an Associate Professor, all these for the simple reason that I refused to yield to his sexual advances.
All my efforts to make the university council to resolve my issue with Prof. Otunta failed, I have also petitioned the honourable minister of Education Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba who looked into the matter and ordered Prof. Otunta to pay my salaries only for him to also decline and rather chose to pay me half of my due entitlement against the ministers directive.
When the News Gazette Online contacted Prof. Francis Otunta the Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University over the allegations of Sexual Harassment and illegal seizure of salaries, he denied that nothing of that nature happened between him and Prof. Patricia Mbah and gave no reasons why her salaries are being withheld or was unable to defend why Prof. Mbah is being punished.
However a member of the governing council of the school who spoke to The News Gazette Online on condition of anonymity informed us that the V.C had compromised the council chairman Rt. Hon. Lawal Zayyana Muhammed and the council can no longer caution or even correct the Vice Chancellors wrong policies or actions. He lamented that Prof. Otunta is now running the school as a “Sole Administrator” and had ran the school down, he stated that it is unfortunate that he has bought over the conscience of the chairman of the governing board of the school and that was why the board cannot call Prof. Otunta to order on the matter of sexual harassment and seizure of salaries against Prof. Mbah.
He also revealed that there are several other complaints of sexual harassment,intimidation and seizure of salaries against some female staff of the university by Prof. Otunta which had been reported to the university council but the board chairman having been so heavily compromised had refused to allow them treat the matter with the seriousness it deserves.