Gentlemen of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
With a strong sense of responsibility, I welcome you all to this Press Conference which seeks to address the spurious allegations, false and malicious publication, against Arthur Jarvis University by Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem using the social media platform. Perhaps it would have been best to not dignify Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem by joining issues with her, but I cannot just sit with arms folded and watch Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem, her daughters and other collaborators bring down this highly reputable and respected institution which I toiled day and night to establish with the assistance of well meaning individuals to the glory of God. Over the last few weeks, my phones have been besieged by barrage of phone calls and text messages from family members, friends and people of good will drawing my attention to the false publications in the social media sponsored and championed by Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem discrediting Arthur Jarvis University in very uncharitable words. This is one instance where silence will not be golden. This Press Conference therefore is intended to correct any erroneous impression, get the members of the public properly informed and set the records straight.
INTRODUCTION OF THE PARTIES:
(i) I am Sir Arthur Javis Archibong and I serve as the Chancellor of Arthur Jarvis University, Cross River State. Arthur Jarvis University is a private institution of higher learning duly approved, accredited and licensed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to operate as an educational institution in Cross River State upon the recommendation of the National Universities Commission. Since its inception, the University has built a reputation of having a zero tolerance for any form of misconduct exhibited by students;
(ii) Miss Mfon Ubong Ekanem is a 100 level Student of Mass Communication in Arthur Jarvis University whilst Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem is a mother to Miss. Mfon Ubong Ekanem.
BRIEF BACKGROUND FACTS LEADING TO THE FALSE PUBLICATION:
On the 19th of May, 2021, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the University incidented a case of assault in the female hostel involving about five female students including Ms. Mfon Ubong Ekanem. Upon further inquiries it was gathered that, Ms. Mfon Ekanem was alleged to have stolen notebooks and other items belonging to some of the girls who allegedly assaulted her thus giving rise to the ensuing alleged affray. All the students involved voluntarily made Statements explaining the roles they played during the incident to the Security Department of the University. The aforesaid Statements are attached hereto as Annexure ‘A1’ – ‘A5’. The Incident Reports made by the Security Officers of the University are also attached hereto as Annexure ‘B1’ – ‘B2’.
However, before the students concerned were taken to the Security Department, Ms. Mfon Ekanem had put a phone call through to her mother to come to the school. Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem, Mfon’s mother arrived shortly thereafter and insisted that her daughter be properly examined at the University’s hospital. Ms. Mfon Ekanem was presented to the Medical Officer on duty in the University hospital and she was thoroughly examined and found to be medically in good condition of health and not in danger of any health situation. The Medical Report issued by Dr. Chimaobi Nwevo is attached hereto as Annexure ‘C’.
Under normal circumstances where the University were in session, all the students involved in the alleged affray would have been invited to appear before a Disciplinary Committee and where found culpable, disciplinary measures would have been meted out appropriately. However, this was not to be as the incident occurred at a time, when the First Semester vacation had already commenced. Infact, students were advised to vacate the University immediately. Consequently, all the disciplinary measures and actions to be taken were kept pending until the resumption of the Second Semester which was earlier scheduled on the 18th of June, 2021.
FALSE AND MALICIOUS PUBLICATION BY DR. (MRS.) LILIAN EKANEM:
Whilst the University was still considering the best way to resolve this issue, to the utter shock and embarrassment of the University, on the 27th of May, 2021 and several other dates, a social media news posted by an Internet News Blogger simply identified as 9JA Street TV published, at the instance of Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem and her daughter, Ms. Mfon Ekanem, several disparaging and libelous information knowing same to be false against Arthur Jarvis University. The aforesaid statement which was published to the whole world inferred that
(a) Arthur Jarvis University is a terrorist academic institution breeding terrorists and gangsters within the University;
(b) Arthur Jarvis University aided and abetted an alleged attack, robbery and battery of Ms. Mfon Ubong Ekanem;
(c) Arthur Jarvis University is a cultism based institution which supports and encourages the operations of secret cult societies;
(d) Arthur Jarvis University is an institution that encourages the abuse of human rights and violence against the girl child; and
(e) Arthur Jarvis University is an institution that conceals tampers with and destroys evidence which would have corroborated the false allegations that Ms. Mfon Ekanem was set up and severely beaten by her colleagues.
In order to paint a grim picture of the alleged assault on Ms. Mfon Ekanem, Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem engaged the services of an artist who applied prosthetics make-up on Mfon’s face for a special effect and made it look gruesome in order to attract sympathy from members of the public who are ignorant of the true facts of this matter. Unfortunately, for Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem, only few days after the incident where Ms. Mfon Ekanem was allegedly violently and viciously attacked resulting in extensive and grievous bodily harm to her, Ms. Mfon Ekanem was spotted in an eatery taking a meal. In the photos and videos taken and recorded without her knowledge, Mfon appeared to be very sound in health and consuming the plate of rice and chicken without betraying any sign of pains on her face and dentition which were allegedly badly injured a few days back.
The aforesaid malicious and false publication on the social media became trendy and attracted a lot of negative comments from social media participants who now believe that Arthur Jarvis University is a breeding place for gangstarism, cultism and other related activities and whose students are prone to violence, physical attack, assault and bullying of other students. In the face of this social media trial, in order to limit and control the damage already suffered by the University, the University published a disclaimer while attempting to reassure the general public of the integrity of the Institution. The letter of disclaimer is attached hereto as Annexure ‘D’.
After seeing the pictures and the videos of Mfon eating in the restaurant, I am sure you will agree with me that, for a girl of 17 years of age to be so badly beaten up allegedly, she would have been recuperating in a hospital bed or at home and would have had some dental complications so much that she will actually have difficulty eating well.
MEDICAL EXAMINATION BY INDEPENDENT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
Further to the ongoing investigation into the alleged assault and battery of Ms. Mfon Ekanem, and in order to establish its non-complicity and non-compromise in this unfortunate incident, the University, by letter dated May 30, 2021, invited Mrs. Lilian Ekanem to a meeting for the purpose of having Ms. Mfon Ekanem re-examined by team of independent medical professionals from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar. The aforesaid letter was signed and received by Mr. Douglas Ubong, a father and husband to Ms. Mfon Ekanem and Mrs. Lillian Ekanem respectively. Unfortunately, both Mrs. Lilian Ekanem and Mr. Douglas Ubong failed to attend and present their daughter for the medical examination exercise. The aforesaid letter is attached hereto as Annexure ‘E’.
Permit me to postulate thus, if Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem and her daughter, Mfon Ekanem were sincere about their claims, why did they fail to honour the University’s invitation for a medical examination of Ms. Mfon Ekanem by independent Medical Professionals and if they were not comfortable with the independent medical professionals suggested by the University, why did they not suggest another medical team to carry out the independent medical assessment?
COMPLAINT AT THE OFFICE OF THE AREA COMMANDER, CALABAR:
On 31st of May, 2021, Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem visited the Office of the Area Commander, Nigeria Police Force, Calabar and lodged a false criminal complaint of Cultism, Assault occasioning harm, stealing, threat to life, gang attack and defamation of character against the University and twelve (12) students of Arthur Jarvis University. Upon the receipt of the letter of invitation to the Police, the University promptly informed the Police that it was not possible to produce the aforesaid students at the station because the students were on vacation and had since travelled to their respective homes.
However, the Vice Chancellor of the University honoured the invitation of the Nigeria Police and stated the case of the University. In furtherance of its investigation, the Office of the Area Commander, Calabar requested for all the evidence including the notebooks Ms. Mfon Ekanem was alleged to have stolen as well as the respective hand written statements made to the University’s Chief Security Officer by the students involved. All these documents were handed over to the Police and the Police are yet to conclude their investigation. When Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem saw that the Police are set to unravel the truth of the matter, she ran to the Cross River State Police Command Headquarters asking that the case be transferred for further investigation without any reasonable ground.
In a bid to attract public sympathy, Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem has commenced solicitations from human rights and gender based Non-Government Organizations in order to enhance and further her false claims. We have evidence of Dr. (Mrs.) Ekanem appealing for financial assistance from members of the public through the social media just to disparage the University. We therefore urge all participants and members of the social media to not be gullible and to not part with their hard earned money in furtherance of these malicious and false claims by Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem.
The University is not oblivious of the antics, nuisance, embarrassment and damages Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem and her daughter have caused and still intend to cause the University. However, the University is prepared to defend its integrity at any fora whatever.
EFFORTS PERSONALLY MADE BY THE CHANCELLOR TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER AMICABLY:
Apart from enlisting well meaning individuals and friends who happen to know the family of Mr. and Dr. (Mrs.) Ekanem to intervene in this matter with a view to having same resolved amicably for the sake of the children involved, I have also personally contacted Mr. Douglas Ubong Ekanem through phone calls and text messages but he has consistently rebuffed my friendly gesture.
In concluding this Press Statement, I must admit that, considering the Situation Report from the University’s Chief Security Officer which I was privileged to read, there was some form of misunderstanding and argument between the concerned students resulting in a minimal affray. The University was in firm control of the situation through its various departments which include the Portar at the hostel and the Security Department. However, because the students had just finished their 1st Semester Examinations and were departing the University for their vacation, the University management decided to conduct an enquiry into the matter upon resumption of school for the 2nd Semester.
To this end, I unequivocally place on record that, Arthur Jarvis University is not and does not represent any of the derogatory and defamatory statements alluded and ascribed to it by Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem. The University has zero tolerance for cultism, gangsterism, terrorism and other forms of ills and vices in the University Campus.
Again, for the records, the University is not shielding any student(s) from any disciplinary measures by any appropriate authority neither is the University concealing or destroying any evidence which is capable of corroborating the spurious allegations of Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem and her daughter.
Considering all these, once again I urge the various participants in the social media, members of the public and parents/guardians to be skeptical and not to be swayed by this campaign of calumny and negative publicity directed at the University by Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem and her daughters.
We have contacted our legal team who have the University’s firm instruction to commence legal proceedings against Dr. (Mrs.) Lilian Ekanem for libel.