A prestigious society has come under fire after a blind student attending one of its debates was "dragged by his ankles" as he was escorted out of the debating chamber, CNN reports.
On October 17, Ebenezer Azamati, a 25-year-old postgraduate student from Ghana, was attending a debate on the British government at the Oxford Union — a student-run organization attached to the University of Oxford in England — when a security guard allegedly tried to remove him from the premises by force.
Nwamaka Ogbonna, the head of the Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS), told CNN that Azamati had, in fact, gotten to the debate early to claim a seat but stepped out to grab food. When he returned to sit back in his seat, a guard reportedly told him that he couldn't because the venue was full and the debate was about to start.
Ogbonna added that when another attendee offered their seat to Azamati, the same guard confronted the Ghanaian student again and slapped him on the thigh. The guard also allegedly tried to pull Azamati from his chair.
Henry Hatwell, another witness, confirmed the incident to the network, claiming that Azamati was "dragged by his ankles" in a failed attempt to usher him out of the chamber. Azamati ultimately left the room after a friend purportedly intervened.
Released footage from OUAS also verifies that a confrontation took place, though it does not show the moment Azamati was supposedly dragged. It does, however, show two men manhandling Azamati after he repeatedly stands his ground.
Following the episode, OUAS told CNN that the Oxford Union banned Azamati from attending future debates until May 2020. The society's president, Brendan McGrath, also reportedly filed a complaint against the student, alleging that he had engaged in "violent misconduct."
Last Saturday, however, the complaint was dropped after an appeal hearing, the network notes. The Oxford Union also appeared to reverse course and released a statement apologizing for the incident.
"Having properly reviewed the new video evidence and witness statements produced to the Senior Disciplinary Committee, the President of the Oxford Union has withdrawn the complaint of violent misconduct, brought on behalf of the staff, against Ebenezer Azamati and apologises unreservedly for the distress and any reputational damage which the publication of this charge may have caused him," the statement reads.
Hatwell told CNN that he, along with OUAS, are now trying to bring impeachment charges against McGrath due to how the president handled the matter.