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NDIFON: Suspended UNICAL Dean challenges qualification of ICPC lawyer in alleged sexual harassment case



The ongoing sexual harassment trial against Professor Cyril Ndifon, suspended Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calabar (UNICAL), took an unexpected turn on Tuesday.

Professor Ndifon, through his legal team, challenged the legitimacy of the lawyer representing the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in the case.

According to court documents, Professor Ndifon’s lawyers allege that Dr. Osuobeni Akponimisingha, the lawyer representing the ICPC, is not registered with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and therefore not authorized to practice law in the country. This raises questions about the validity of the ICPC’s case if their legal representation is deemed unfit.

In a motion on notice filed on behalf of the suspended Dean by their lawyer, Joe Agi (SAN), they urged the court to acquit them of the sexual harassment and cybercrime charges filed against them by the ICPC.

The motion on notice partly read, “The amended charge in this case is incompetent and preferred by a person whose name is not on the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria under Section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act and thus robbing this court of its jurisdiction.

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“The amended charge was preferred by one Dr Osuobeni Ekoi Akponimisingha, a person whose name is not on the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria under Section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act.”

Section 2 of the Legal Practitioners Act of Nigeria stipulates that only lawyers whose names appear on the roll of the NBA can practice law within the country. Professor Ndifon’s legal team is urging the court to dismiss the charges against him based on this technicality.

The ICPC has yet to publicly respond to the allegation. However, it’s expected that they will either address the issue of Dr. Akponimisingha’s registration or appoint a different lawyer to represent them in the case.

Professor Ndifon is facing four counts of alleged sexual harassment and gratification. The charges stem from a complaint filed by a female student who accuses him of inappropriate behavior. He has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

This development adds a new layer of complexity to the ongoing case. The court will need to determine the validity of Professor Ndifon’s claim and decide how to proceed if Dr. Akponimisingha’s registration status is indeed unverified.

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