Nigeria: Embattled Nigerian Professor Faces More Charges in South Africa

The professor was released on a R5,000 bail (about N140,000) by the Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court Wednesday, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

Things might have gone from bad to worse for a Nigerian university professor, Edwin Ijeoma, who had his South African citizenship revoked as he has now been charged for car theft.

Prosecutors charged Mr Ijeoma, 55, for "using a car without the consent of the owner" in Bhisho.

He was arrested in April after he had been on the run since March when he was declared wanted, New24 reported.

The vehicle was said to belong to the University of Fort Hare, and the don was thus accused of "stealing" the car.

He was released on a R5,000 bail (about N140,000) by the Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court Wednesday, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said.

Hearing of his case will continue June 18 June, NPA spokesperson, Anelisa Ngcakani, said.

"The suspect was charged for using a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. He is expected to appear [in the] Zwelitsha Magistrate's Court [on Thursday]," police spokesperson, Tembinkosi Kinana, a brigadier, said in a statement.

"Ijeoma is also the subject of a Hawks investigation, in connection with a case of fraud, worth R5 million," Hawks spokesperson, Yolisa Mgolodela, was quoted saying in another statement.

The latest charge against the don could compound his woes as he has been battling to shrug off allegations of admission fraud, citizenship fraud and bigamy, legal battles that have made him jobless.

Bad to worse

The research specialist arrived in South Africa from Nigeria in 1998 on a student visa to study at the University of Pretoria, earning a PhD in Economics by 2003.

He opted to stay back and he approached immigration authorities to naturalize him as a citizen. He allegedly renounced his Nigerian citizenship in the process.

Authorities had exempted him from immigration restrictions due to his marriage to a South African woman. But by 2017, he divorced her after the couple was reportedly unable to have a child.

Thereafter, he was joined in the Southern Africa nation by a Nigerian woman, Anne Tomo Ijeoma, whose name he had earlier filed as his sister.

On the contrary, in her application for permanent residence in South Africa, the Nigerian woman said she was Mr Ijeoma's wife as she attached a copy of her 1993 marriage to him in Nigeria.

Alarmed by this, South Africa's home affairs officials were tipped off that he had committed bigamy by marrying the South African mistress while being married in Nigeria.

He was charged and convicted for the same offence by the Bhisho high court. His South African citizenship was revoked and he was rendered an undesirable inhabitant of the country.

As he grappled to clear this sweat off his brow, another trouble brewed for him in the institution where he had excelled and led projects.

In October, he was suspended for misconduct by the University of Fort Hare, spokeswoman, Tandi Mapukata, told PREMIUM TIMES in an emailed statement.

She said the professor of public sector economics was facing "allegations of serious misconduct" for which he has been "placed on precautionary suspension" since October 16.

Local media News24 reported that he was charged for allegedly registering two students for a degree programme in public administration when they were not entitled to register for postgraduate studies.

The university pressed charges against him for the irregular admission and registration of the two students, including Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, whom Mr Ijeoma supervised for his master's programme.

Mr Mabuyane was deregistered from the university for being irregularly admitted, and he has threatened to press charges against the institution.

The academic was suspended from his professorial job at the university over the scandal.

Mr Ijeoma resigned from the University of Fort Hare in March amid the investigation into these allegations.

The university did not return repeated emails for comments. Mr Ijeoma also has not responded to an emailed enquiry.

More From: Premium Times

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.