Madonna University students jailed over WhatsApp chat regain freedom

Entrance View of Madonna university
Tochi Juliet

Six students of Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State and a deputy director of students affairs in the institution, Mr Tony Ezimo were finally set free after 17 months of standing trial at the Federal High Court, Awka.

The students were picked up in 2018 in various parts of the country and brought to the Onitsha Correctional Center over a chat in a WhatsApp group.

South-East Voice gathered that in the course of contributing in the forum, they discussed the issue of frequent resignation of lecturers in Madonna University and advised the management to try as much as possible to do everything humanly possible to retain lecturers in the university because quality teachers were difficult to come by.

The management of the university did not take the comment lightly and so, began to trace the location of the students at that point.

Three of the students had finished their clearance and were waiting for their deployment for the mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, the other three had completed their examinations and were waiting for clearance before they were arrested.

Some of them were already declared missing by their relations as they couldn't contact them. It took several months for their relations to trace them to Onitsha and Awka prisons.

Madonna university students jailed over WhatsApp chat

It took the intervention of the Attorney General of Federation for their case to be dropped.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Arthur Obi -Okafor, SAN, announced to the delight of those in court that he had the approval of the AGF to withdraw the charges against the students and the director and that they should go home and sin no more. court, they were accused of treasonable felony and armed robbery.

The case was between the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and the seven defendants whose offences were said to be capable of portraying Madonna University in a bad light.

After regaining their freedom last week, their leader, Mr Ezimo, speaking on behalf of others, in an emotion-laden speech said they had terrible experiences in the course of their trial, but expressed joy that they were free at last.

He said the whole saga had changed their impression about a lot of things in life.

"It was not a pleasant experience being arrested and detained for something one knows nothing about and being framed by those who one trusted and worked hard to promote. But things happen for various reasons, and we are glad that it has widened our knowledge on issues about life.

With the striking out of the matter, I believe that justice had been done. We spent six months in detention for no justifiable reason and just striking out the case and asking us to go home may not be the real justice.

However, having found ourselves in a situation like this, we have to accept it, and we are grateful to the judge for granting the request of the Attorney General of the Federation to withdraw the matter from court to free us."

Parts of inside view of Madonna university

When asked if he will return to the University to work, he said:

“Definitely, I will not return to Madonna University even if they pay me N2m a month. Indeed, I worked with my whole heart and hoping that working for the institution I graduated from would enhance my career, but what I got in return was not favourable.

So, I will never go there for whatever reason, and I wish Madonna University well. It will, however, not stop me from promoting Madonna University anywhere I find myself, but not from within the school.”

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