UNIJOS, NARAGUTA CAMPUS—April 6, 2021, was a historic day for the Jos Medical Students Association (JUMSA), after several months of campaigning against male counterparts, Mary Ekoja was elected the first female president of JUMSA—the first time in 43 years. This was an extraordinary moment with the undisputed talks about a female taking over the seat for the first time.
“Her rise to power was straightforward as the election process was free and fair. Members of the Association gave the massive support she won and assumed office as Union President,” Michael, a 500-level medical student told JOEY OFF AIR.
Originally, her tenure was supposed to be for the 2021/2022 academic year but due to the continued strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the administration was prolonged to 2023.
However, on January 17, 2023, her tenure which lasted for one year and nine months, came to an end, but not in the usual way. She was impeached following the alleged claims of financial wrongdoing and abuse of office. The impeachment was moved by the JUMSA Parliament, supported by 20 signatories, out of 26, cutting across four classes.
Henry Ezeh, the deputy speaker of the Parliament said, “the President failed to present financial documents as directed by the Union’s constitution. She also carried out events like health week, Christmas parties, and JUMSA dinner with the funds of the union, without the required approval of the House of Parliament. This is evaluated as an abuse of office and unconstitutional.”
Article IX Section 37, subsection 2 of the JUMSA Constitution states that “the exco shall organize all programs as approved by the House of Parliament.” This constitutional requirement was not met by the Union President, Mary Ekoja. He noted this in a statement released on January 17, 2023.
However, Ms Ekoja considered the alleged claims leading to the impeachment as slander and character defamation in an attempt to tarnish her good name and also ridicule the legacies of the administration. In a statement published on January 14, 2023, she argued that “she served the Association in the best of her capacity and maintained her integrity.”
As of press time, Ms Ekoja did not respond to calls or WhatsApp messages from this Reporter.
“The Union President has been opposed right from the time she assumed office because of her state, Benue, hence the Impeachment.” Joy, a 400-level medical student, argued. “For two consecutive years, students from Benue State have presided over the association. This did not go down well with other candidates, especially those from Plateau state—where the University is located—who lost out on the election and felt like power was not being rotated evenly. Nevertheless, the Constitution only provides for a free and fair election which was ensured and not rotation of power.”
According to Sen. Henry Ezeh, the deputy speaker of the JUMSA House of Parliament, “this move was toward posterity for the betterment of the Association and not a character defamation.”
The Parliament felt that nobody was above the law neither the President nor the Executives. Hence, indiscipline in any regard will not be condoned.
Nonetheless, the University council has been involved and is currently investigating the issues surrounding the impeachment. Prof. Tanko Ishaya, UNIJOS Vice Chancellor, on January 27, 2023, ordered the immediate dissolution of both executive—including the impeached president—and legislative members of JUMSA.
According to Prof. Ishaya, the provost of the University’s college of health sciences will manage the affairs of the association until new executives for both arms are voted into power. He also mandated Ms Ekoja to present a comprehensive financial report of the union between April 16, 2021, to January 17, 2023.
Reporting by Peace Isama; Editing by Johnstone Kpilaakaa