• BBC undercover journalist alleges threat to life
The outrage over the alleged sex-for-grades scandal at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) continued yesterday with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) calling for an investigation and sanctioning of the lecturers indicted in order to sanitise the university system.
The Chairman of the UNILAG branch of ASUU, Dr. Dele Ashiru, yesterday in Lagos said that the union was against all forms of unethical practices, including sexual harassment. Ashiru was reacting to a viral British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) investigative video which showed some lecturers at UNILAG and University of Ghana sexually harassing female students.
“As a union, we are against all unethical practices among colleagues, including sexual harassment and even abuse. The development is very disturbing and unfortunate. We have appealed to colleagues to understand that as lecturers, we stand in ‘loco parentis’ (in the place of a parent) to these students and must not be perceived in any way of not being protective.
“We condemn this act of shame in its entirety and want the matter to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate sanction carried out on all those found culpable,” the ASUU chairman told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
On his part, a professor of English, Chimdi Maduagwu, also at UNILAG, said there was the need for a social re-orientation of the lecturers and others.
“It is about social scrutiny, urging for enforcement of self-discipline, especially among the academic staff. There must be a way to look into and touch these things and water them down
“Some of us tend to be wielding so much power in the positions we find ourselves that we lose control even when there is an absolute need to draw the lines. An average lecturer could be so powerful that he sees himself as having all the powers to fail or award grades at his whims and caprices,” he said.
A group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), urged ASUU and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to put strong legal framework to tackle the menace of sexual violations of admission seekers and students by lecturers.
HURIWA recalled that in 2016, the Senate had passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, which provides for a five-year jail term for a lecturer convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Ovie OmoAgege who is now the Deputy President of the Senate.
The bill also proposed a fine of N5 million in the alternative just as it also made provisions for lecturers and educators who may be falsely accused by their students to initiate processes by which students could be punished for false accusations.
The group recalled that regrettably, there was no concurrence by the House of Representatives so the bill did not see the light of day even as ASUU also kicked against the proposed law because, according to it, “in all intents and purposes, it undermines university autonomy.”
In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said it had also proposed the introduction of a legislation to stipulate the chemical castration of rapists convicted for violating the dignity of children, even as it has sent the proposal for the new law to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami; Minister of Women Affairs Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“In Nigeria, rape is unlawful carnal knowledge of a female by a male. It could be non-consensual sex with an adult female or carnal knowledge of a female child or minor.
“On the other hand chemical castration is the use of anaphrodisiac drugs to lower sexual drive. It does not involve removing a person’s testicles like surgical castration but only the use of drugs delivered by injection to render the testicles irrelevant,” HURIWA said.
The BBC journalist, Kiki Mordi, yesterday told SaharaReporters that she had received subtle threats since her widely applauded undercover investigation into sexual harassment of female students by male lecturers at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana was published.
The investigation, which took almost a year, saw Mordi and other undercover female journalists secretly filming randy lecturers in both universities, trying to use their positions to demand sex from young ladies in order to favour them academically.
According to Mordi, who said on Monday that the project was inspired by her personal story, she is not bothered by those threats because the BBC takes the security of employees very seriously.
“I am happy that a lot is changing already since the documentary was released and I can confirm to you that one of the lecturers at UNILAG caught sexually harassing a prospective student has been dismissed by the institution. I believe it doesn’t stop there until there is a conviction. We have to break that culture of impunity.”
The University of Lagos has indeed issued a statement, suspending one of the lecturers indicted in the saga, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu.
The varsity’s spokesperson, Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, said “Igbenegu was caught in a sting operation
Meanwhile, the National President of NANS, Danielson Bamidele Akpan, says he received over 70 complaints within 24 hours that the documentary was released online on Monday from students who claim they have been victims of sexual harassment by lecturers in Nigerian universities.
“I am glad that Nigerian female students are opening up with lots of confidence, as their parents are disregarding societal stigmatisation. Most of the female students present facts and evidence and are ready to speak publicly.”
The student leader alleged that labour unions in universities, polytechnics, colleges of education as well as secondary school principals were also culprits in the sexual harassment of female students in educational institutions.
“They protect/shield their randy colleagues from being disgraced and prosecuted. We would soon end that era of sexual harassment on our campuses. We won’t keep quiet anymore. Rather, we would come down hard on lecturers or any official of institutions found to be molesting female students sexually for whatever reason. Enough of sexual harassment and abuse against students by lecturers.”