Two student-athletes, Ekwe Nelson Chibunna and Jideofor Ikejehovah, have been suspended by the Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, for boycotting the 29th World University Games held in Taiwan. .
Icirnigeria reports that the duo, who were members of the school’s Taekwondo club, decided not to participate in the international competition because their head coach, Okechi Onwuka, was abruptly told he could not accompany them and was replaced with another university staff who knows nothing about sport or Taekwondo. .
To no avail, they have written several letters appealing to the management to reinstate them so that they may graduate. .
According to the letter dated May 24, 2018, and signed by the registrar, Jacinta N. Ogwo-Agu, the decision to suspend was ratified by the University Senate at its sitting on April 18, 2018. .
The document describes the boycott as “an act of insubordination” and “an embarrassment to the university and the nation”. .
“The University Senate, therefore, directed that you should be suspended from the University with immediate effect and your matter to be referred to the Students’ Disciplinary Committee,” the letter adds. .
Onwuka, who has volunteered as the university’s taekwondo coach since 2008 and was employed as a lecturer in 2013, was also queried and accused of inciting the students to boycott the competition. .
He told The ICIR that the athletes have sacrificed a lot to represent the institution with little support from the management. In winning numerous medals for the school, Onwuka said he has spent time and personal money. .
“My efforts to convince the chairman of the Sports Committee, Chukwuemeka C. Chukwurah, and the University that the students are so immature to be exposed to such risk, as this is a combat sport, without their personal coach couldn’t yield any result,” Onwuka explains.