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Iniobong Ekpo: Panel To Probe Expulsion Of Student Over Facebook Post Against Akwa Ibom Governor

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Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom has set up a five-man panel to review the expulsion of one Iniobong Ekpo, a Final year Agricultural Engineering student of Akwa Ibom State University, over alleged derogatory comments against him on Facebook.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary and Senior Special Assistant on Media to Gov. Emmanuel, Ekerete Udoh, and made available to Journalists in Uyo on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

The panel is headed by the Commissioner for Education Mrs Idongesit Etiebet and is expected to submit its report to the Governor as soon as possible.

The statement noted that Governor Emmanuel who is also a visitor of the University was not part of the student’s expulsion as the decision was purely taken by the management of the institution.

The statement in parts, “we have read various reports mainly on the social media space concerning the administrative sanction said to have been taken by the Management of the Akwa Ibom State University, AKSU, against one of its students, Iniobong Ekpo, leading to his expulsion from the University.

“We have equally followed the media feeding frenzy by the usual motley crowd of political jobbers and inveterate rabble-rousers who have maliciously tried to link the action taken by the university authority to the Visitor of the University, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel.

“We wish to state here emphatically that Governor Emmanuel, a known apostle of freedom of expression, was and is still not aware of this purely administrative action reportedly undertaken by the university.

“He has accordingly, directed the constitution of a panel comprising five members, to review the case and submit its report immediately.

The Panel is to be headed by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet.”

It could be recalled that in 2019, Iniobong Ekpo, was first of all suspended indefinitely for publishing the “derogatory and defamatory article” on Facebook against Governor Emmanuel before his expulsion in 2021.

He was said to have used a pseudonym, Afrosix Jaara, to write the article in which he called Governor Emmanuel a con artiste who engaged in scamming and deceiving students, alleging that the Governor failed to fulfill his promise to the best graduating student of the institution.

But, the institution irked by such comments said in the expulsion letter, that the student’s article was a “breach” of the matriculation oath and a violation of the university rules and regulations enshrined in the Student Information Handbook.

The letter added that the post contravened the rule on Page 86 of the handbook which stated that “posting insulting/abusive messages against lecturers, the university or any of its officers/agents, other staff or fellow students either in print or on social media. The penalty shall be rustication or expulsion based on the gravity of the offence.”

However, a Human Rights lawyer and lawyer to Mr Ekpo, Inibehe Effiong(Esq) through a letter said the university authorities did not give his client a fair hearing.

He said his client was never invited to appear before a disciplinary committee before his suspension.

Apart from challenging the expulsion, he is demanding N20 million from the university as “general damages and gross breach of Mr. Ekpo’s fundamental rights.”

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