SexForGrades: Senate Holds Public Hearing On Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill

 

The Senate Committee is currently holding a public hearing on a bill to prohibit sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.

A wide range of stakeholders including students, Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s), pressure groups among others are present at the public hearing.

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Some of them who spoke with Channels Television described the bill as long overdue and added that the Senate should expand the scope of the bill to include students in primary and secondary schools.

According to the groups, students in these categories also face sexual harassment from their teachers.

The anti-sexual harassment bill is sponsored by Senate Deputy President Senator Ovie Omo-Agege following a BBC investigation that uncovered alleged sexual misconduct by lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana

“Sexual harassment in our campuses is a repugnant challenge to our values as a people. For far too long, sexual predators masquerading as educators have plied the corridors of our nation’s higher institutions unchecked. It will continue in the absence of an appropriate leadership response,” Omo-Agege said while sponsoring the bill.

If the bill becomes a law it would be illegal for lecturers to make any sexual advances towards students.

#SexForGrades: NHRC Sets Up Panel To Investigate Cases Of Sexual Violence

FILE PHOTO: Women protest on the streets of Abuja following arrests of over 100 women at different in Abuja nightclubs for alleged prostitution.

 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is set to investigate cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria.

Executive secretary of the commission, Toby Ojukwu, while addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday said an investigative panel has been set up to look into the cases.

READ ALSO: #SexForGrades: We Are Not Doing Enough To Protect The Girl Child – Kiki Mordi

Ojukwu said the investigative panel is necessary following the arbitrary arrest of women in Abuja by the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and the BBC documentary which exposed some lecturers demanding sexual relationships from female students in exchange for grades.

He also made reference to the case of 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje who died in 2018 due to complications from an alleged rape by a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic.

“The rising cases of gender-based violence have necessitated the need for a stronger policy and laws to protect the rights of Nigerians especially women and children,” he said.

#SexForGrades: Report Cases Of Abuse, Buhari Urges Victims

Buhari Donates $500,000, Vehicles To Guinea Bissau For Elections
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the cases of sexual violence in tertiary institutions in the country.

He faulted such incidents and appealed to victims not to cover up cases of abuse but report same to relevant agencies.

“Survivors and their families must avoid cover-up,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

He added, “They should be encouraged to come forth and report cases of abuses wherever and whenever they occur.”


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#SexForGrades: UNILAG Suspends Another Lecturer
#SexForGrades: UNILAG Suspends Lecturer Captured In Secret Video


President Buhari was reacting to the recent high profile revelation of sexual abuse cases in institutions of higher learning in the country.

He stressed the need for stricter laws to prevent girls from being abused in schools, noting the incidents at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) which were exposed through an undercover news reporting.

The President stated he was happy that the revelation has spurred an amendment to the nation’s laws regarding the issue in the National Assembly.

He gave assurance that such proposed amendments passed by the Legislature would get his support as long as they conform to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

President Buhari said, “The country must do more to address incidents of sexual violence, sexual abuses in our schools, discrimination, human trafficking and cultural practices that violate women’s rights.”

He, therefore, urged law enforcement agencies and school administrators to take up such cases with every seriousness and ensure that perpetrators face the consequences of their actions.

Following the emergence of the report, UNILAG authorities had suspended two of their senior lecturers indicted in the 53-minute long video filmed by BBC.

Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts was suspended on Monday while Dr Samuel Oladipo of the Department of Economics was suspended two days later.

Both lecturers were suspended over allegations of sexual harassment, actions the university said contravened the policy of the institution.

UNILAG authorities have also called on members of staff and students with relevant information concerning the incidents to come forward.

#SexForGrades: We Are Not Doing Enough To Protect The Girl Child – Kiki Mordi

 

Days after the release of a documentary by the BBC, Journalist, Kiki Mordi, has continued to speak about the impact of the project.

The documentary themed #SexForGrades, which was filmed secretly by a team of undercover journalists, disguised as students, sought to expose the age-long tradition of sexual harassment in universities.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, Mordi who says she has been a victim of sexual harassment, noted that the society is not doing enough to protect the girl child.

According to her, the menace goes beyond tertiary institutions to secondary and even primary schools, further widening the education gap between men and women.

“I dropped out of school, I was robbed of my education,” she said while stressing that the conversation needs to be taken more seriously especially as the world marks the International Day of the Girl Child.

“The girl child is not protected. She is not protected at home, she’s not protected in school. It’s a very important message and it’s very important for all of us to remember that we are not doing enough to protect the girl child. It seems like we’ve all agreed to it. It’s like a silent agreement and we need to stand up.. we can’t be silent in the face of oppression”.

Speaking about why she chose not to hide her identity in the documentary, Mordi explained that she’s aware of the risks involved in such a project.

However, because she of her personal experience, she chose to be a voice to the many voiceless victims of sexual abuse.

“I had to put my human face to it. Apart from being a journalist, I also came from a place of experience.. I know what it feels like to be in that space and I don’t have a problem with putting my face out there. I just felt I should marry my humanity and journalism and it worked out well,” she said.

She, however stressed that “parents have a huge role to play in making sure that they protect their children”.

Beyond that, Mordi believes that university authorities also owe it to their students, to protect them.

According to her, despite hearing comments that some lecturers also get abused, she believes that the lecturers still have an upper hand and don’t necessarily have anything to lose if they chose to reject sexual advances.

As part of efforts to help curb the menace, she believes dissolution of lecturers’ powers is a good place to start.

“Sexual harassment is a huge problem that goes beyond the four walls of schools but if at the very least, we can make our schools safe, I think that means that we are listening and we are doing something about the problem,” she said.

Read Also: UNILAG Shuts Down ‘Cold Room’ Where Lecturers Allegedly Assault Students

‘Cold Room’ 

Following the release of the documentary which sparked various reactions, the university has since suspended two lecturers, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu and Dr. Samuel Oladipo.

Both lecturers were captured in the video, making advances to the reporter who had disguised as a 17-year-old seeking admission.

Their actions, according to the university, contravene the policy of the institution which requires lecturers to provide parental care for students.
Meanwhile, the ‘Cold Room’, where lecturers allegedly sexually assault students has also been shut down.

The development was announced on Monday in a statement by the Principal Assistant Registrar (Communication Unit) of the university, Taiwo Oloyede.

Dr Igbeneghu had mentioned the ‘Cold Room’ in the documentary, describing it as a place where lecturers meet to “touch students’ breast” at the staff club of the university.

According to him, “nothing good comes free” and the ‘cold room’ experience is the price some female students have to pay to have good grades.

#SexForGrades: UNILAG Suspends Another Lecturer

 

Another lecturer in the University of Lagos, Dr. Samuel Oladipo, has been suspended.

Oladipo who worked in the department of economics was captured in the investigative documentary filmed by the BBC, making sexual advances to the reporter who had disguised as a 17-year-old student seeking admission.

His actions according to the university contravene the policy of the institution which requires lecturers to provide parental care for students.

Read Also: UNILAG Shuts Down ‘Cold Room’ Where Lecturers Allegedly Assault Students

He is, therefore, expected to face a panel set up by the university to investigate his alleged involvement in the sex-for-grade saga.

Meanwhile, the institution has called on members of staff and students that have relevant information concerning the incidents to come forward.

Oladipo’s suspension comes just days after Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu was suspended over similar allegations.

He was also suspended from the foursquare church where he is a part-time pastor.

#SexForGrades: UNILAG Suspends Lecturer Captured In Secret Video

unilag
File photo

 

Authorities of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) have suspended a lecturer, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, over allegations of sexual assault.

The school’s Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Wale Babalakin, confirmed the development to Channels Television on Monday.

He also noted that the university council will investigate the matter as it does not condone such behaviour.

The suspension comes just hours after the release of a documentary filmed discreetly by the BBC.

In the video, Igbeneghu was captured in a compromising manner with a reporter who had disguised as a 17-year-old, seeking admission.

He has also been suspended by the foursquare church where he is a part-time pastor.

See the full statement by the university below:

UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS SUSPENDS DR BONIFACE IGBENEGHU, BARS HIM FROM UNILAG AND SHUTS DOWN THE STAFF CLUB “COLD ROOM”

The University of Lagos Management today suspended Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts who was caught in a sting operation by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) titled “Sex for Grades”. The trending video chronicled cases of sexual harassment of female students by some lecturers in some West African Universities including University of Lagos.

Management at its emergency meeting of October 7, 2019 suspended Dr. Igbeneghu from work immediately and barred him from the University academic areas while the suspension subsists unless invited by a Panel constituted by the University to investigate the matter.

In addition to this, the University Management has ordered the shutdown of the Staff Club “Cold Room” mentioned in the documentary for further investigation. The so-called “Cold Room” is a Functions Room that may have been abused because this is a deviation from the purpose for which it was created (meetings, seminars, events, etc.).

The University assures members of the public that any other lecturer mentioned in the full version of the operation which is to be aired later today, will also be suspended to ensure a proper investigation is carried out.

The University is embarrassed and dissociates itself totally from this act(s) and any inappropriate behaviour of staff with female students and vice versa. The University has a well-articulated “Policy on Sexual Harassment, Sexual and Romantic Relationships”. A copy of the University Sexual Harassment Policy was distributed to all members of staff and can also be obtained on the University website: https://unilag.edu.ng/wp-content/uploads/SEXUAL-HARRASMENT-UNILAG-COMMUNICATION-UNITS.pdf

Various Committees over time have been set up to investigate reports received and those found guilty/culpable were sanctioned. To ensure our students are aware of the various opportunities for reporting any form of sexual harassment or misconduct towards them, the University organises an orientation programme for all new entrants sensitising them of the University’s zero-tolerance policy and acquainting them with the mechanisms for reporting.

The University Counselling Centre, Medical Centre and Division of Students’ Affairs amongst other organs have been well positioned to address complaints by students. These organs have cut off the bureaucracy limiting the effectiveness of the Policy, by the direct reporting system of these Centres to the Vice-Chancellor. The University encourages students who have evidence to come forward. They are assured of their anonymity and safety.

As a reputable Institution and one of the foremost Universities in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, we are highly embarrassed by these allegations and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that this menace is checked in our institution.

The University of Lagos is committed to providing conducive and safe learning environment where future leaders are trained to take responsibilities for their action.

Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede

Principal Assistant Registrar (Communication Unit)