lecturer at the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt, Solomon Tamunotonye, has raised the alarm over the continued seizure of his salaries running to 20 months by the institution’s management.
The management of the Polytechnic had, in a statement by its Registrar, Chris Woke, slammed a three months suspension on Tamunotonye over alleged “harassment and exploitation” of a 200-level female student identified as Blessing Audu.
The polytechnic later referred the lecturer’s case to a committee for investigation and recommendations.
But speaking with our correspondent, Tamunotonye, expressed annoyance that the management had written to him months after to resume work and tender a written apology without disclosing to him or make public the committee’s findings.
The lecturer, who is of the Department of Public Administration, however, explained that following his refusal to write an apology letter and insisting that the allegations against him were false, the management stopped payment of his salaries since then.
He stated, “I have been having a running battle with my polytechnic that borders on false allegation which the polytechnic put in the social and traditional media sometime on January 7, 2022.
“They put the false allegation with a caption of sexual harassment against a student with my name in the media. Based on that, they suspended me for three months and set up a committee to investigate the matter.
“Five months after the setting of that investigative panel and the conclusion of that investigation, they refused to release the report of the committee. Rather they wrote to me to resume work and write an apology letter to the management.”
Continuing, he said, “I actually resumed work but refused to write an apology letter because I have not seen the need for an apology letter because I didn’t commit the offence I was accused of.
“I believe in the laws of the polytechnic which is that the punishment for sexual harassment of a female student by any lecturer is dismissal and not an apology letter.
“If I write an apology letter to the management, what is the remedy for the girl who was said to have suffered sexual harassment? So, I said they should rather release the report and punish me accordingly if I am found wanting by the committee. But they refused.
“However, I resumed work and because of my refusal to write the apology letter, they continued to hold my salary till now. It’s about 20 months. But the Rivers State Government has continued to pay my salary because I receive my pension alert every month.”
Tamunotonye further alleged that on December 16, 2022, he was attacked by three employees of the polytechnic, who he said he could identify.
“They collected my two phones and damaged my laptop in an attempt to destroy evidence I have to present in court,” he alleged.
“As I speak to you, the Commissioner of Police Monitoring Unit, GRA, Port Harcourt, where they went and arrested me for claims that I went to steal in the school, the police have finished their investigation and we are now talking about the matter in court. So, I wouldn’t want to talk on that because the matter is already in court.”
On the allegations of stealing against him, he said the police concluded their investigation, but added that a powerful individual in the polytechnic was using his connection around government to “frustrate the matter from being charged to court.”
Tamunotonye called on Nigerians, the State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, and civil society groups to come to his aid, saying he had begun doing menial jobs to survive.
When contacted, the Registrar of the Polytechnic, Chris Woke, told our correspondent in a terse response on the telephone that the matter was in court.
Woke stated, “Well, the matter is in court. So long as the matter is in court, I can’t say much. The young man (referring to Tamunotonye) should know what is good for him.”