Nudity scandal hits University of Energy and Natural Resources
Nhyira News has uncovered activities of a student who takes nude pictures and videos of female students for blackmail at University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani.
Victims of the scandal have been left with psychological and emotional trauma, forcing some of them to leave school.
Though attention of authorities had been drawn to the misconduct of the final year student, Benjamin Ofoe, who served as an SRC executive, no disciplinary action was taken.
All Level 100 and 200 female students, first, received Whatsapp messages inviting them to join Hook Up, a dating network on campus, promising them rich, white partners.
New entrants are required to send nude pictures and videos to an unidentified person via a Tigo, Vodafone or MTN number to facilitate the process.
The unsuspecting students, after sending the nude materials later receive threatening messages from different lines, asking them to pay between 800 and 4,300 Ghana cedis.
They are also to give in for sexual affair with the anonymous caller or risk having the pictures and videos put in the public domain.
"He asked me to come and meet him so that we will go to a hotel and have sex and I told him that I can't do that," one of the victims said.
Akosua (not her real name) is a victim.
"He just comes to you and pretend to be a White man, and then ask for the pictures; then he tells you to send money or else I will distribute your nudes. So mine it wasn't necessarily because he would promise you money and all that. It's a lot."
She has been telling me her harrowing experience, a situation she says affected her relationship with both male and female friends.
"It has affected my life very much because it happened at home. When I came to school in the next semester, anytime is someone is approaching me, I feel like the person is staring at me too much. It caused that kind of social fear. I was scared of everyone."
The story of 20-year-old Mavis is different. Unlike others, she did not sent her nude pictures and videos as advertised.
She says she was asleep in her hostel room when the suspect who supposedly was on a visit to a colleague, took undue advantage to take pictures and videos of her.
According to her, the suspect pestered her to transfer money to him, a situation which left her stressed up. Even some her of her colleagues could not help but weep for her.
Former Women Commissioner, Janat Issifu who blames university authorities for lack of action summarises it all.
"With Amma's case, the sad part of it is that she didn't send her nudes out. Actually she was sleeping and excuse me to say she didn't watch herself so she was sleeping carelessly in her room. Someone entered the room and took a picture of her and use that picture to blackmail her," she narrated.
She has since changed schools, citing insecurity and lack of action by university authorities.
"The day I saw Amma, I was very, very sad because I saw her when she came to level 100. At that time I was the Women's Commissioner. She was a very beautiful lady, going on with academic life; everything was perfect. And later I saw Amma sick . It was so sad. That day I cried," she lamented.
Though Ama's case was brought to the attention of university authorities, little was done to ameliorate the situation.
Nhyira News sources say though sanctions were recommended against Mr. Ofoe about three years ago, nothing was done.
Amid such adversity, another victim, 20-year old Eva mustered courage and reported the matter to Sunyani District Police Command.
It followed distribution of her nude pictures and video to some students, whilst the suspect demanded 4,300 Ghana cedis from her.
"Actually he's called Benjamin Ofoe. He asked me to pay Gh4,300 and I told him I don't have that kind of money. Then he said I should sell my laptop and mobile phone so I will give him the money. I said okay but I didn't give him the money".
Police investigations led to retrieval of two SIM cards, one bearing a Tigo number the suspect used to distribute nude pictures and videos of complainant.
"During interrogation and his investigation cautioned statement, accused person denied the offences. Later accused person led police to his place of abode located around Zinko Area/Sunyani. A search was conducted in his room where two Sim Cards were found in the said room, one bearing the said MTN number 0552878230 onto which the complainant sent her nude pictures and videos to the unidentified person and the other bearing Tigo number 0270625265 that was used to distribute the nude pictures and videos to the complainant, the two students that is Amoyaw Ketis and Sophia Adu," Sunyani District Commander, DSP Kramoh said.
District Commander, DSP Franklin Kramoh, says the suspect confessed to the offence. " At this stage, accused person then confessed to the offence".
Eva tells Nhyira News she is happy to have blown the suspect’ s cover. Benjamin Ofoe initially denied knowledge of circulation of nude pictures and videos.
"I don't have any idea of circulation of any nude pictures or whatsoever , " he said.
He later accused university authorities of hiding behind fund misappropriation war he started against the SRC to victimize him.
When I tried to understand the link between the two incidents, however , he confirmed having been arrested in March while the alleged misappropriation occurred in June, last year.
"For me I don't want to draw any link but the thing is that you [University] think you have an issue you want to pursue and so you ask the police to help you. I don't have any problem. We are trying the matter, "he insisted.
Mr. Yeboah Murdock is SRC President, UENR
The Student Representative Council faults university authorities for inaction after it received several complaints from victims.
In a letter dated March 7, 2019 and addressed to the Vice Chancellor, the University Council expressed worry over authorities failure to act.
"We fear that if there's no punitive action meted out to this boy, virtually it serves bad precedent for discipline in the school. We the SRC are not comfortable with the fact that nothing has been done to this gentleman and we feel that there should be an action to serve as deterrent,". SRC President, Yeboah Murdock lamented.
University authorities however say they have done their best despite what they describe as impediments in their way by suspect.
University Relations Officer, Appiah Kubi says Mr. Ofoe put impediments on the way of university authorities in their attempt to act over Eve's case.
According to him, the accused student, who had then been arraigned at the Sunyani District Court "B" brought an interlocutory injunction over what he describes as “double jeopardy.”