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|MOUAU Suspends Students For Refusing To Attend Taekwondo Contest by chicoMX(m): 9:20pm On Jan 11, 2019|
WITHOUT granting them a fair hearing, a Nigerian tertiary institution, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, suspended two of her student-athletes, Ekwe Nelson Chibunna and Jideofor Ikejehovah, for boycotting the 29th World University Games held in Taiwan.
The students, who were members of the school’s Taekwondo club, decided not to participate in the international competition because their head coach, Okechi Onwuka, was abruptly told he could not accompany them and was replaced with another university staff. To no avail, they have written several letters appealing to the management to reinstate them so that they may graduate.
According to the letter dated May 24, 2018, and signed by the registrar, Jacinta N. Ogwo-Agu, the decision to suspend was ratified by the University Senate at its sitting on April 18, 2018. The document describes the boycott as “an act of insubordination” and “an embarrassment to the university and the nation”.
“The University Senate, therefore, directed that you should be suspended from the University with immediate effect and your matter to be referred to the Students’ Disciplinary Committee,” the letter adds.
“You are to hand over all property of the University in your possession, including your student identity card to the Department and vacate the university campus within 24 hours of receipt of this suspension letter.”
Onwuka, who has volunteered as the university’s taekwondo coach since 2008 and was employed as a lecturer in 2013, was also queried and accused of inciting the students to boycott the competition.
He told The ICIR that the athletes have sacrificed a lot to represent the institution with little support from the management. In winning numerous medals for the school, Onwuka said he has spent time and personal money.
“The university rarely sponsors us to participate in competitions outside the Nigerian University Games (NUGA),” he explains. “We train at the rough lawn tennis courts for lack of an indoor sports hall. I buy most of the equipment, handle training logistics and sponsor most of the competitions even when I am not under any emolument as a school coach.”
Narrating the team’s experience at the 2017 pre-NUGA qualifiers, he said it was “excruciating and inhuman” what they had to go through. The team slept in an old canteen at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as no provision was made for accommodation. They also had to compete “with empty stomachs” as no allowance was given for refreshment.
Despite the challenges, the team still qualified for the main NUGA event that year, which was held at the University of Agriculture Markurdi, Benue State, between April 22 and 30. Though they prepared using substandard instruments, out of seven medals eventually won by the school, six were won by the taekwondo team, including 2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals... Here is a link to the full story
The affected student Ekwe Nelson Chibunna is my departmental and level mate
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