Oxford varsity sacks self-proclaimed Nigerian professor over ‘fraudulent book launch’ – Report

The University of Oxford in the United Kingdom has reportedly sacked Onyeka Nwelue, the Nigerian filmmaker and author, as an academic visitor to the institution.

Nwelue had been an academic visitor at the varsity’s African Studies Centre since October 2021.

Cherwell, Oxford University’s oldest independent student newspaper, reports that Nwelue’s dismissal in February followed the unauthorised use of the varsity’s logos and premises for commercial purposes.

The report also said Nwelue, addressed by the outlet as a “fake professor”, is facing “complaints of misogyny towards students and the spread of racist, classist, and sexist content online”.

The author was said to have landed in trouble on January 31 when he hosted a book launch for David Hundeyin, the Nigerian journalist.

The event was to publicise Hundeyin’s latest work published by Abibiman Publishers, which is owned by Nwelue.

It was held at Oxford’s faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages (MML) in Wellington Square.

According to the report, Nwelue used the logos of Oxford, the African Studies Centre, and the MML without permission.

The institution was said to have asked the filmmaker to take down its logo from the event’s flyer.

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Attendees also accused the author and the organisers of extortion and the use of “misogynistic” remarks which they claimed made them feel “incredibly uncomfortable”.

Nwelue, however, apologised to the attendees, adding that he strongly condemns sexism and misogyny.

“I am very sorry if the students felt uncomfortable. About sexism and misogyny, I will never condone that. I am apologetic if that happened. Really sorry,” he said.

The event has brought the controversies surrounding Nwelue’s academic qualifications into the spotlight.

In the bio of his now-deleted Twitter account, he referred to himself “Professor + Academic Visitor” at Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

He also addressed himself as a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

The author once bragged about his self-acclaimed status during a heated argument with some users on Twitter.

But the three institutions dismissed the claim.

Oxford clarified that the institution does not employ academic visitors, adding that they do not get paid and are not expected to undertake duties for the university.

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Cambridge University also announced it has cut all ties with him and Hundeyin.

In spite of his social media bio, Nwelue denied calling himself a professor.

“I have never ever posed as a professor at Oxford and Cambridge. My card says I am an academic visitor and that is exactly what I tell people. The accusation that I say I am a professor at Oxford is baseless,” he was quoted as saying.

On his qualification, he said: “I have the equivalent of Master’s as a filmmaker. I also have an Honorary Doctorate. I have been Visiting / Research Fellow in other universities. Prior to Oxford, I made award-winning films and published a lot of books. [sic]”.

The report also revealed that of the 22 books authored by the Nigerian, 20 were either self-published or published by companies owned by him.

In the wake of the controversy, the author stepped down as the director of the James Currey Society, which has links to both Oxford and Cambridge University.

It is understood that there is an ongoing investigation into his time as academic visitor at Oxford University.

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