The Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU) in Lapai, Niger State, is probing the sexual harassment allegation levelled against a teacher, Mallam Ishaq Yusuf, by a student, Chidimma Mercy Samuel. The teacher, who was found in the student’s room at night, denies the allegation. He claims he was framed up. WALE AJETUNMOBI reports.
How did a lecturer find himself in such a compromising situation? This is the knot a panel is seeking to untie as it probes the allegation of sexual harassment against Mallam Ishaq Yusuf, a teacher in the Department of English Language and Communication Studies of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University (IBBU) in Lapai, Niger State. The lecturer was allegedly found naked in a female student’s room around 10pm on February 21.
Chidimma Mercy Samuel, a 400-Level student in the department, accused the lecturer of coming to her hostel with a plan to sleep with her. But, Yusuf claimed that he was framed up. He alleged that the student conspired with some boys to abduct him.
But, the images of a series of WhatsApp conversations between the lecturer and the student, obtained by The Nation, paint a different picture. They indicated that Yusuf planned to visit Chidimma in her hostel at an arranged time. He allegedly used his MTN number – 08035520941 – to chat with the student.
Yusuf was allegedly caught in Chidimma’s room by a group of boys just before the act. The English lecturer, who allegedly drove himself to the student’s hostel, hurriedly left without taking his two mobile phones, an ATM card and his underpants.
It all happened at the Montana Lodge, an off-campus hostel in Lapai, where Chidimma lives. Chidimma has alleged threats to her life, following the incident. She said some anonymous persons called and threatened her with death after the incident.
Chidimma claimed Yusuf started disturbing her from her first year in the school. Her refusal to yield ground, she claimed, earned her a carry-over in his course.
She said: “The lecturer has been disturbing me since I was in 100-Level. He would tell me how much he likes me and would come to meet me where I was reading to disturb me. I declined to date him. I told him I was not interested in anything he was saying. Then, he failed me in his course, which I took in second semester of 100-Level.
“I didn’t protest the result, because I did not want to meet him for any help. I knew I would do better the next time. I was able to pass the carry-over course when the department brought another lecturer to take the course.”
Chidimma said Yusuf was unrelenting in his pursuit, claiming: “It got worse when I was in 300-Level.”
Chidimma, whose wedding comes up on March 21, added: “The lecturer purposely failed me in two of his courses I took, because I turned down his advances towards me.”
What culminated in the February 21 incident started on the eve of the last Valentine’s Day. Yusuf, according to the WhatsApp conversation, allegedly asked Chidimma to see him in private.
“I asked him if there was a problem; he replied that there was a problem. I asked him what the problem was, but he refused to tell me in the conversation. He insisted I see him in private,” the student claimed.
Chidimma claimed to have complained to former Head of the Department (HOD) of English Language and Communication Studies, Dr Ebenezer Ogungbe.
“I told Dr Ogungbe about the conversation the lecturer had been having with me. The former HOD said I should tell him (Yusuf) to see him. When I told him Dr Ogungbe requested to see him, he didn’t reply me. He only said goodnight,” she said.
On February 20, Chidmma alleged, Yusuf again chatted with her around 11pm, complaining about her reluctance to see him. He then allegedly demanded to see Chidimma that night, but the student said she declined because it was late.
She alleged: “The following day, he sent me messages and said he would see me later. In the evening of the day, he sent me another message, asking where I was. I told him I was in my hostel. He said he could not imagine ‘how it was going to be’. I was confused. I asked him what he meant by that statement.
“He said he wanted to see me that evening and he did not want the meeting point to be at his office, so that people would not see us together. I told him to come to my hostel, because my fiancé was around. He said he would come to my hostel at 10pm. I called Dr. Ogungbe again to inform him about the development.
“My fiancé was already angry and had started suspecting my relationship with the lecturer. He felt I was the one chasing the lecturer about for marks. I explained everything to him and he said he would like to know why the lecturer wanted to see me. I told the lecturer to come to my hostel if he really wanted to see me, but he did not show up.”
After Chidimma’s fiancé left for Abuja the following day, Yusuf allegedly called to say he would be at her hostel in the evening.
Chidimma claimed: “I quickly informed my fiancé, who called his friends to come around my hostel to confirm things for him. My fiancé thought the lecturer wanted to kill me after sleeping with me. When the lecturer called me to say he was on his way to my hostel, I alerted my fiancé’s friends who positioned themselves around my apartment.
“Immediately he got into my room at 10pm, he checked around to be sure there was nobody with me. He checked my bathroom and kitchen. He didn’t know that people were beside the windows outside, listening to our conversation.
“I asked him what he wanted from me. He sat close to me on the bed and extended his arm around my shoulder. He asked if I knew the reason I had been failing his courses. I told him I did not know. He said it was because I had refused to ‘comply’ and ‘play along’.
“He said that was the reason he needed to come to my hostel and ‘rub minds together’ with me. He said he would ensure that I passed his courses after sleeping with me. He told me that without sleeping with him, I won’t pass the courses and I won’t graduate from the school.”
After making his intention known, he allegedly got up, went close to the bathroom and pulled off his clothes. He only had his boxers on him as he approached the student.
Chidimma alleged: “I pretended to be playing along. I asked him to pull off his boxers too. He obliged. That was when I called for help and my fiancé’s friends barged in and saw the lecturer naked. They started filming him and taking his photographs as he was naked.”
It was gathered that Yusuf begged the boys not to expose him. Asked what he was doing in a female student’s room at night, he allegedly pleaded that the matter be resolved amicably and promised to pass Chidimma in all his courses.
Yusuf was made to write an undertaking that he would not disturb the girl again before he was allowed to go. The lecturer allegedly wrote the undertaking. As he left in a hurry, Yusuf was said to have forgotten his underwear ATM card and mobile phones, which were still with Chidimma at the time of this report.
The next day, The Nation gathered that Yusuf reported the case to the management. He alleged that Chidimma sent a group of cultists to abduct him and dispossess him of his ATM card and mobile phones – a Nokia and Infinix – at gun point.
Chidimma, he claimed, connived with the boys to kidnap him on his way home.
“I was forced to remove my clothes,” he said, claiming: “I received calls from the girl in the evening. She asked me to see her. She said a boy whose test paper I tore earlier in the day during a test wanted me to help talk to the lecturer taking the course for a make-up test. I told her they should see me the next day.
“On my way home, I saw the girl at a junction close to her hostel. She was standing by the roadside with some boys. As soon as she entered my car, the boys also came in and pressed a metal on my back. So, I was forced to drive to the girl’s house.
“As we got into the room, they removed my clothes and poured water on me. They demanded that I give them ransom before I could be freed. I was accused of making attempt to rape the girl. The boys humiliated me.”
But Chidimma denied framing up her teacher. She said she had been receiving threat calls.
“I was frightened by the calls and had to leave for my safety. Some people called me that they were after me. The school is no longer safe for me,” she said.
The management has invited the lecturer and the student to explain what transpired.
Chidimma said her department’s head had called her to confirm management’s letter inviting her to the panel.
Contacted, Dr Ogungbe said he was aware of the matter, but declined further comment in order “not to pre-empt the panel’s investigation into the matter”.
The IBBU Director of Information, Alhaji Baba Akote, said the panel would unravel what happened.
Akote said: “I won’t make further comments on the matter, except to tell you that the incident is being investigated by the school panel. This is my position.”
In a statement on its website last Friday, the school said it would take appropriate action against anyone indicted by the panel.
The statement reads: “The university management is aware of the recent unfortunate incident between a male lecturer and a female student. In view of this, management has set up a committee to investigate the immediate and remote cause(s) of the incident. The committee is headed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and involves all stakeholders in the matter.
“Accordingly, all parties involved are hereby advised to exercise restraint. The university community and the general public are assured of the management’s resolve to take appropriate disciplinary action against any party found guilty after the investigation.”