Cesri - Centre of Excellence for Scientific Research & Innovation

Statement On False Media Campaign Against Professor Eoc Ijeoma By And On Behalf Of Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, Vice Chancellor University Of Fort Hare


The Zwelitsha  Magistrate Court  A, presided over by Mr. Venter, on Tuesday January 11, 2022, dismissed for lack of merit the case of car theft brought against me by the University of Fort Hare Management headed by Professor Sakhela Buhlungu. In the course of the trial, media reports on the allegations did not reflect my side of the story. I therefore consider it expedient to issue this statement to dispel the misconceptions propagated against me in the public space, despite my innocence.
It is important to state upfront that throughout my eleven years of dedicated and severally commended service at the University of Fort Hare, I was never told about or questioned on any wrongdoing by any person, office or the University Management structures.  This is to enable members of the university community and the general public situate my travails within the context of flagrant abuse of power laced with elements of personal vendetta and xenophobia in the academic community.

I was suspended on October 16, 2020. About a month earlier, precisely on September 23, 2020, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu dispatched a suspension notice captioned “Precautionary Suspension of Two Staff Members” to the University Community. He stated the alleged offences in the notice but did not mention the names of the offenders. Prof. Buhlungu did not officially brief the South African media and the global community on the two staff members. But in my case, in an apparently well-orchestrated attempt to assassinate my character and undermine my outstanding legacy at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) and my home country, Nigeria, he circulated the notice of my suspension to the media.
This is not surprising given Professor Buhlungu’s infamous xenophobic and vindictive tendencies that manifested early in his tenure. When he assumed office in early January 2017, Professor Buhlungu openly indulged in xenophobic rhetoric against non-South African black academics by calling on the people of the Eastern Cape to reclaim their University from the foreign blacks. His call led to an eruption of conspiracy theories, distrust, and professional envy amongst  academic and non-academic  staff of the UFH  for the first time in  its over one hundred  years of historic and enviable  legacies, in which Africans  born outside South Africa played prominent roles. The VC propagated conspiracy theories around what he considered the UFH’s legacy of selling master’s and doctoral programmes under the leadership of his two former predecessors. It got so bad that he had to hire body guards and protectors, a measure that incurred extra financial burden for the already financially handicapped university.

In a damning 2021 Convocation AGM Report, the president of the university’s Convocation, Solomzi Tshona, openly lamented the fate of the university since Professor Buhlungu became the VC. The report bemoaned what it termed the “xenophobia and exclusion of foreign academics and foreign students”

“We received reports the Fort Hare management target foreign students and foreign academics to exclude them. It is dangerous when people start making allegations that the VC is highly xenophobic in his approach. Even now foreign students who complained that they did not have anywhere to go during lockdown are being taken to DC for crying that they have nowhere to go. We are no longer a caring university,” the convocation report declared.

It drew attention to “Instability or unstable management” at UFH.

“This is indicated by the culture of hiring and firing of top managers. We always have most positions that have people on Acting Capacity e.g., Acting DVC, Acting Dean of Students and Acting SRC etc. It is well known that since the arrival of the VC, a registrar was fired, two DVCs were fired, Deans of students were fired, managers in various divisions were fired and CFOs were fired. We observed that of all these people fired, none of them was found guilty by any tribunal or court of law. We also observed that it is only the VC who is right; everyone else is wrong. Unstable management compromises quality and institutional memory.”

The report lay the blame for the dwindling fortunes of the university squarely at the feet of the “Incompetent and vindictive Vice-Chancellor”.

“It is now clearer to the convocation that we have an incompetent and useless Vice Chancellor at the University of Fort Hare. He arrived 5 years ago with a mantra of fighting corruption, and he is still fighting corruption until his term ends with no successful conviction of those alleged to be corrupt. We are now known as a university for losing a lot of court cases in a very embarrassing way. All the managers of the university fear him instead of respecting him. The VC fires the alleged corrupt and replaces them with questionable characters that are alleged to be corrupt again. The university under his term is very hostile to the provincial government as you all can see in the public domain that provincial officials are always haunted and discouraged to work closely with the university. The VC has no ideas at all; when he wakes up every morning, his agenda is to look for the next target person to victimize. Now that the term of office of the current VC is approaching an end, it is very important for all of you as the convocation to help the university to identify a new Leader with a vision to unite and rebuild our institution,” Tshona lamented.

In obvious reference to the controversy surrounding the admission of prominent South Africans for postgraduate studies at the university, the report stated:

“We cannot have a university that fails to defend even its own admission policy which allows the recognition of prior learning (RPL). The university may think that they are embarrassing senior leaders whom they do not like, but it is the university itself that is embarrassing itself in public. If we allow the University to continue to embarrass itself in public, soon, we will be left with no University to talk about”.

A South African newspaper, the Sunday World, went to town with an unverified allegation that I had been behind the irregular admission of the Premier of Eastern Cape, Honourable Oscar Mabuyane, another prominent alumnus and former student leader of the University of Fort Hare, for a master’s degree programme, an allegation that the premier promptly debunked as baseless in an official statement.  The Premier said:

“I have no letter from the University informing me that I will be deregistered nor am I aware of the University’s intention to (de)register me as suggested by the Sunday World journalist. I understand the university has confirmed same. Since the beginning of this academic year, the University has been in contact with me and the last correspondence was the replacement of my instructor ostensibly as a result of the suspension by the institution of Prof Edwin Ijeoma.

The last communication I received from the University of Fort Hare last week Friday was informing me that my ethical clearance application was approved by the University for me to start with the research part of my MA course.”

The Vice Chancellor is also known to be incapable of drawing the line between official matters and the personal family issues of staff of the university in a bid to persecute his perceived enemies. 
To my surprise and the consternation of those who know me well, reports of my contrived criminality appeared in several regional and national newspapers, as detailed below, followed by detailed responses to the allegations contained therein:

Date: 6th March 2021: Daily Dispatch

1).  Resignation of Professor EOC Ijeoma

University of Fort Hare Staff and Students   Notices, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and Google.


Professor S. Buhlungu had no authority to inform the University or the International community about my employment at the University of Fort Hare. There was no similar communication when I joined the University in 2009, and there has never been such communications on all the milestones, outstanding legacies, and innovations initiated and implemented by me during my tenure at the University of Fort Hare, including but not limited to the following:

•             I successfully supervised and graduated about 50 Masters, 60 Honours and 45 Doctorate degree students.
•             I wrote and co-authored 21 books and book chapters that are recommended texts at Fort Hare University and beyond, the latest of which are:

Ijeoma EOC and Nzewi IO (2018) Editors: Culture, Philosophies and Reforms in Public Administration for the globalizing world: A reflection on local, Regional and International Perspectives. AOSIS Publishers.

Wessels S, Kwaza MH and Ijeoma EOC (2021) Sustained Poor Audit Outcomes: The Case of the Amathole District Municipality in Public Administration Challenges: Cases from Africa, supported by the National School of Government, South Africa, and Funded by the European Union Commission. Edited by Jacobus S Wessels, Juta Publishers. Pp.247-274.•   

In addition,  pioneered the following academic journals:

Founder and Chief Editor (2013-2021)
Africa’s   Public Service Delivery and Performance Review published by the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Networks (ISDMN) in collaboration with Institute for Development Assistance Management (IDAM, University of Fort Hare.

Founder and Chief Editor:(2015-2019)
Journal for Local government research and Innovation (JLGRI) Published by the School of government and Public Administration, University of Fort Hare.

•             I attended over 50 local and international conferences.
•             I am a recipient of many prestigious academic research and scholarly awards.
•             I am the pioneer Project Leader and was the Director of the Institute for Development Assistance Management (IDAM) from 2010- 2021, as well as a director at Fort Hare Solutions from 2009 when I joined the university until my resignation in 2021. Fort Hare Solutions is a business, research, and training company fully owned by the University of Fort Hare on whose behalf I signed and raked in millions of rands in contracts and sponsorships and facilitated many external partnerships and projects.

It needs to be mentioned that UFH head-hunted me from the University of Pretoria to replicate my innovative ideas and outstanding contributions backed by my experience as a research specialist at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). I leveraged those experience and connections to drive and position IDAM and Fort Hare Solutions as a global brand for over a decade.


Date: 30th April 2021: News 24
2).  Former Fort Hare Professor Appears in court after a month on the run from the Police
Platform: News 24 and other social media platforms.

In my almost eleven years of meritorious service at UFH, I worked on the Bisho Campus. My residences in King Williams Town and Pretoria were in the university’s Human Resources database and were known to staff and students. My mobile phones have been active and open for direct communication for over 20 years. Yet, I was said to be on the run from the investigating police officer (IPO) who admitted under oath that he never even phoned me.

3) The same title of the paper reported that “Ijeoma stole a vehicle and irregularly admitted and registered two students including the Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabunyane.” And that the UFH lay charges against Prof Ijeoma.

The authors of the article acted on the update from Professor Buhlungu without bothering to contact me either on my mobile phone or via e-mail to hear my side of the story, thus publishing fake news. I never stole a car. That, of course has been attested to by the Magistrate’s court ruling. The alleged stolen car was my official car as the Director of IDAM.

4) The same article reported “Fort Hare Professor expelled from South Africa over a bigamous marriage.

RESPONSE:  I was never expelled by any South African authority. That news was not only FAKE, but also malicious and grossly unprofessional.

5)  It also reported that “the Head of the UFH School of Public Administration is under suspension by the University in connection with illegal registration of the axed Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba for honours degree in Public Administration.”
I was never suspended on admission matters. By the way, I was neither the Admissions Manager nor the Registrar of the UFH. The truth is that I was suspended to enable Professor Buhlungu dig for incriminating evidence of what he thought I might have done wrong long before he joined the UFH as Vice Chancellor.  This is buttressed by the fact that it took the UFH about five months after my suspension to fabricate charges against me on issues that took place ten years earlier.

These unfounded allegations were published via the following outlets:
•             University of Fort Hare Notices
•             Sunday Times
•             Daily Dispatch and
•             News 24

APPEAL: Considering the unfair media coverage of  my trial as outlined above, I would like to use this opportunity to appeal to the relevant regulatory authorities to continue to sanction any media outfit or publication, conventional or online, that is in the habit of flouting its sacrosanct journalistic ethics and standards or professional code of ethics that requires print, broadcast and online media to uphold the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability, including the principle of "limitation of harm" that requires the withholding of certain details or information not materially related to the news report, where the release of such information might harm someone's reputation.

APPRECIATION: Finally, I thank my family members, friends,  professional colleagues, and my attorneys who believed in “Innocent until proven guilty” and stood by me throughout the ordeal. Had Magistrate Venter not granted me bail earlier, despite the false witnesses by the University of Fort Hare’s Investigation Director, the UFH Director of HR’s false affidavit, the Prosecutor, and the Investigating Police Officer’s witnesses, I would have spent about ten months in detention only for the case to be withdrawn for lack of merit. Let me use this opportunity to also commend the magistrate for his professionalism. This has proven to everyone that fair justice is still obtainable in South Africa.
EOC (Chikata) Okoli-Ijeomah, PhD.
Professor of Policy & Public Sector Economics.
Director-General: Centre of Excellence for Scientific Research & Innovation (CESRI:Africa).
47 Kings Road , Danville, 
King Williams Town
Eastern Cape, 5601.
South Africa.
Mobile: +27 72 672 6276

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