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Published On: Thu, Jul 4th, 2013

DELSU Rape Saga: Group Petitions NBA over Female Student’s Lawyer Unprofessional Conduct

DELSU ;ecturer, Ifeanyi Ugwu accused of raping a female student

By Oghenekevwe Laba
LAGOS JULY 4TH (URHOBOTODAY) Group under the aegis of Delta Women has written a petition to Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) accusing Mr Anuku Oghene- Menshach counsel representing a female student of Delta State University (DELSU) who accused a lecturer of Department of Theatre Arts, DELSU,
Mr Ifeanyi Ugwu of raping her of unprofessional conduct.
A petition titled, “To Whom It May Concern” signed by Kirthi Jayakumar, Legal Head of Delta Women, directed from Puram Chenai to the President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Abuja, of which a copy was made available to Urhobotoday via email, Delta Women drew the attention of Nigeria Bar Association to the unscrupulous and unprofessional practice of Oghene-Menshach.

“Delta Women wishes to bring to the attention of the Nigeria Bar Association the unscrupulous and unprofessional practices Mr Oghene- Menshack and issues that have come forth in the context of a recent incident of sexual harassment by a lecturer of the Department of Theater Arts, Delta State University, Abraka, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwu Raphael and a 400 level female student. We wish to report these malpractices to you for your attention and involvement in bringing an unscrupulous lawyer to book,” the petition stated.
In the petition in which NBA branches in Warri, Ughelli and Abraka all in Delta State were copied, the group accused Oghene-Menshack whom they claimed is a lecturer in DELSU and relation of the alleged sexually harassed female student whom he is representing of breaching the legal rule of “nemo iudex in sua causa” which disqualify a lawyer from judging his own cause or one with which he is connected.
“First, it is important to know that the Lawyer Mr. Anuku Oghene-Menshach is related to the girl whom he is representing; who was the victim of the aforementioned sexual harassment. We gathered that he is also a lecturer in the same school. These facts showed an inherent conflict of interest that his position puts him in, and we are firmly steeped in our understanding of natural justice. By the rule of nemo iudex in sua causa, he is not allowed to judge his own cause, nor one with which he is connected,” the petition argued.
The petition further disclosed that in an attempt for the Founder of Delta Women Ms Elsie Ijorogu-Reed to secure information from Oghene-Menshack on the case and to encourage him to divulge the truth with respect to the reported rape case, he entered into a verbal confrontation with her, adding that he went to the extent of threatening a journalist who sought to speak with him on the issue.
“When our organisation reached out to Mr. Anuku Oghene-Menshach in an attempt to secure information on the case and to encourage him to bring out the truth, he entered into a verbal confrontation with our founder, Ms. Elsie Ijorogu Reed. He even threatened the journalists who sought to speak with him. All of this was because we were demanding what is right in this matter which is justice for the victim.
“This behaviour is unbecoming to say the least, and abusive in complete disregard of dignity. We implore you to investigate the matter and take the lawyer to task for his detraction from professional ethics,” the petitioner appeal to the Nigerian legal body.
It could recalled that the Theatre Art lecturer was accused of having gone to the hostel of the female student where he forcefully had a sexual affair with her. The lady was reported to have raised an alarmed whereby male friend of the student came to her rescue. They were alleged to have beaten and stripped the lecturer naked. They snapped his nude pictures and circulated it in social media of Facebook and twitter.
The lecturer in return arrested the female student for assault and defarmation. The issue however took a different twist at the Ughelli Police Area Command as the lecturer who had earlier reported the case at the Abraka Police Station through his counsel, suddenly opted for an amicable civil settlement of the matter, out of Court.
The briefing held at the Ughelli Area Command which had in attendance, representative of the police, the female student in question, her parents and counsel to both parties with the lecturer Mr. Ifeanyi conspicuously absent, his counsel disclosed that his client has resolved to settle the matter in a civil manner.
Meanwhile, in a quick reaction to the purported civil settlement, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Delta Women which had earlier waded into the matter in what it termed as rape on women, said it was wrong of the police in cognizance with the counsel to Mr. Ifeanyi to settle the matter in a civil manner.
Speaking in a phone chat with Urhobo Today, Founder/CEO of Delta Women, Ms. Elsie Ijoroju-Reed said, “The issue of rape is a criminal matter and hence should be treated as such. The lecturer in question should be punished for his deed.
“It doesn’t matter if he succeeded in raping the girl or not, what matters is that, there was a criminal act and he should be punished for such, hence it could happen to the next girl. If nothing is done; the next culprit could go unpunished. All we want is that the matter should be properly investigated and if any of the parties involved are found to be lying, either the girl or the lecturer, that person should be punished. Sexual harassment is a criminal matter, not a civil case were one has the liberty to ‘settle’ outside court, “ Ijoroju-Reed Delta asserted, stressing that proper investigation should be carried out and the guilty should be punished.
“Even if the girl is lying. Not investigating it is a slap to girls that are genuinely harassed. If it is found that the girl was lying, she should be punished because her conduct makes it dangerous for the girls who are seriously harassed. The lecturer should also be punished for going into the girls’ hostel!” She added.

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