By Jude Atupulazi
The one year traumatic ordeal of six students and a lecturer of Madonna University, Okija looks set to be over. This comes in the wake of an understanding reached with authorities of the university by the students and lecturer, following a long drawn legal fireworks that spanned a year.
The students and the lecturer were arrested in January 2019 from various locations in the country and detained in prison custody in Awka and Onitsha till July 2019 for comments deemed by the University authorities as unfavourable to the institution.
They were later charged to court, with the matter being heard at the Federal High Court, Awka.
As the case went on, it was gathered that some of the parents of the students apologised to the founder of the university, Rev. Father Emmanuel Edeh as demanded by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Arthur Obi-Okafor, SAN, while some did not.
But at the resumed hearing of the case, last Monday in Awka, the court was informed that all the seven defendants had reached an understanding with the university, thus paving way for an amicable resolution of the case.
A parent of one of the students, Chief Christopher Onyejekwe, who spoke to Fides, and who had been in the forefront during the legal battle, said he supported the position of the prosecution counsel for an amicable settlement on the basis that one should not build a house and destroy it.
Fides learnt that consequent upon the saga, some parents withdrew their wards from the university. But Onyejekwe has called for a change of heart in order to, according to him, preserve one of the few institutions of repute in the Southeast. He said that unlike the West, the Southeast did not have many such big institutions and it made little sense for anyone to pull down the only one there.
‘It is us who own the school and we should not pull it down. I welcome the idea of withdrawing the charges. However I urge the school to unearth those causing trouble in the school because the Fr Edeh I know is not bad,’ Onyejekwe said, while hoping that once the case was withdrawn, the students would be given their certificates to enable them to proceed to their youth service.
‘I have been going to the Blessed Sacrament and praying day and night and today, I give glory to Jesus, our Saviour and Blessed Virgin Mary,’ Onyejekwe said.
Counsel to the defendants, Barr Chinedu Igwe, also expressed happiness over the decision to withdraw the case by the prosecution and said he was eagerly looking forward to the 4th of March to see it actualized.