Sexual assault: ‘I was wrongly dismissed’, OAU lecturer Mosobolaje breaks silence

A lecturer at the Department of English Language Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr Adebayo Mosobalaje, has claimed that he was “wrongly” dismissed by the university management for alleged sexual assault.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, on Wednesday, Mosobolaje faulted the Governing Council for acting contrary to the recommendations of the Joint Senate and Council Disciplinary Panel.

According to him, no student wrote a petition against him.

The PUNCH had reported that Mosobolaje was dismissed by OAU Governing Council after an alleged sexual demeanor against a female student.

The OAU management in a statement on Tuesday said Mosobolaje violated sections of the University’s regulation.

But the lecturer, who is one of the key players in the crisis rocking the academic staff unions at OAU, debunked the allegations against him, noting that he would appeal the decision of the Governing Council.

How it started

The PUNCH gathered that the female student was admitted into OAU in 2013.

In 2017, the female student was said to have visited Mosobalaje in his office for further instructions on her final year project work when the alleged sexual assault reportedly happened.

On July 5, 2018, a petition that indicted the lecturer was sent to the university’s vice-chancellor, Eyitope Ogunbodede.

Based on the report, an investigative panel was set up by the VC and the lecturer had to resign as a member of the university’s governing council representing the convocation.

Mosobolaje denied the allegations when he appeared before the investigative panel.

Reacting to the dismissal on Wednesday, he clarified that he tendered evidence of how a member of the Centre for Gender, an organ of the University that wrote the letter of complaint, had previously threatened his job before the panel.

Mosobolaje said, “The lady in question recorded the audio in 2017 but the University started the investigation in 2018. The Centre for Gender, an organ of the University wrote the letter of complaint on behalf of the lady. So, the Centre was the complaint and members of the Centre were also invited by the University Investigative Panel as witnesses.

“I appeared once before the Investigative Panel and also once before the Joint Senate and Council Disciplinary Panel which was the trial proper.

“I have been in the department since 2006, 15 years ago – and no previous case of harassment against me. I have not also received a query at all since I started my career.”

My right was violated – Embattled lecturer

Mosobolaje also explained that he was dismissed despite the alleged absence of evidence of sexual harassment against him.

“The decision is a violation of my fundamental rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore a travesty of justice.

“Just an instance, the report of the Joint Senate and Council Disciplinary Panel submitted that there was no evidence of harassment in the audio being the charge against me but went ahead to find me guilty on an account that I was not charged (lecturer-student relationship) which is not included in the list of misconduct in the University Code of Conduct,” he added.

No cross-examination, lecturer alleges

The English lecturer said the panel did not tell him the claims and evidence made against him by the said student, adding that the transcript of the conversation with the complainant on the telephone was not also made available to him.

Another complaint made was that in the report of the Joint Senate and Council Panel, the student reportedly submitted that the interaction between her and the lecturer did not affect her grades.

He said, “My accuser did not appear before the Investigative Panel.

“The Panel took evidence from her via a phone conversation. The lawyer on the Panel rejected the move as being inadmissible in law.

“The Panel did not tell me what my accuser levelled against me. The Panel did not know the accuser nor the person speaking at the other end of the call.

“More than the above. My accuser did not appear before the trial proper. So, there was no cross-examination.”

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