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The Management of Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State has indicated its intention to withdraw a lawsuit against six students of the institution and a lecturer charged for criminal defamation.
The counsel for the university and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Arthur Obi-Okafor, stated this when hearing in the matter resumed at the Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State on Monday.
He asked the court for an adjournment to enable the parties perfect an ongoing arbitration on the matter.
The defendants, known as the Madonna Seven, were arrested and detained in January 2019 for allegedly making unfavourable remarks against the university on the social media.
It was gathered that parents of the students had approached the university authorities to settle the matter out of court.
On Monday, the court was informed that the defendants had reached an understanding with the university, thus paving the way for settlement out of court.
The counsel for the defendants, Mr. Chinedu Igwe, did not oppose the move.
He said, “We have made the submission of the students to reach an agreement with the university. As it stands, everybody is on the same page now. It is a welcome development because the students need to continue with their lives because they have suffered so much.We hope that all the charges will be withdrawn on 4th March.”
One of the parents, Chief Christopher Onyejekwe, in his reaction supported the position of the prosecution counsel, saying , “one should not build a house and destroy it.”
He added, “Our desire is that these children should be given their certificates to enable them go for the National Youth Service Corps so that this matter should be closed finally. I am not happy that many parents have withdrawn their children from the university because of this issue.
“It is my expectation that we should reconcile so that those who have withdrawn their children should bring them back. I was one of the people that led the campaign against the university, but I have realised that it is not good to fight one of the best tertiary institutions we have in this part of the country.
“It is also children from this part of Nigeria that populate the school and we should therefore protect its interest. I have been part of Madonna University since its inception and I will continue to support its growth and development.”
Onyejekwe advised the university authorities to identify the bad eggs in the institution and do away with them to avoid giving the university a bad name.
He commended the action of the founder of the university, Rev. Fr. Edeh, on the matter and hoped that the whole thing would end on the next adjourned date.
“Fr. Edeh is a good man, but it appeared that some of the people working in that university caused the problem,” he said.
The presiding judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, adjourned the case to March 4, 2020.