The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says schools should emulate Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in the fight against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.
In a statement issued by Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer, on Sunday evening, the commission lauded the action of the school authorities in terminating the employment of 15 staff and demotion of one academic staff on account of conducts bordering on corruption and sexual harassment.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt two weeks ago that the university’s governing council approved the disciplinary actions on the 15 erring lecturers.
The Director of ABU’s Public Affairs, Sama’ila Shehu, confirmed the punishments meted.
While speaking to The Nation newspaper, he said, “Some of the offences ranges from mishandling of records, scripts, sexual harassment and assault. There are categories of offences and penalties. Some are termination of appointments, dismissal and demotion.”
The paper reported that a lecturer from the Department of Plant Science was sacked for sexually harassing a female staff while three lecturers from the Sociology department were sacked for the alteration of results, extortion of students and illegal allocation of grades.
Meanwhile, the FCCPC noted that the disciplinary action was a sequel to investigations into sexual advances and illegal allocation and alteration of grades including extortion of students.
The agency said the steps taken by the school are based on Section 17 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act FCCFA.
“These types of conduct materially affect the entire community, diminish scholarship and negatively skew academic outcomes in a manner that violates the rights of targets of the behaviour and victimises others who are invariably indirect victims. The inappropriate behaviour undermines the quality and validity of education and questions the credibility of educational outcomes.”
The commission said it is further encouraged by ABU’s commitment to a broader and continuing investigation of others within the community.
“In addition, the Commission commends ABU for this robust and far-reaching effort and the confidence it restores and promotes in our institutions, systems and processes,” it stated.
According to Mr Irukera, a transparent, fair and just educational community is essential for all members of the academic community and the commission is “keen to ensure that students, as consumers are afforded the necessary protections and our campuses are safe and secure always.”
The commission, however, urged educational institutions to pursue ‘aggressive and open initiatives’ to ensure harassment, corruption and other vices are eradicated from Nigeria’s educational system.
Fight against sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is one of the major challenges in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.
Some of the institutions have taken action while others have been reluctant to punish offenders even after reports by PREMIUM TIMES and other media.
In 2018, this paper reported how Richard Akindele, a professor at the Obafemi Awolowo University made sexual advances towards a postgraduate student in exchange for marks.
The professor, whose conversation was leaked to the public, was fired by the school authorities and bagged 24-month imprisonment u
Recently, PREMIUM TIMES uncovered how a professor and former head of the department of criminology at the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Adewole Atere, had sex with and impregnated a teenage student of his department, Precious Azuka, in 2017.
Following the scandal, it was gathered that Mr Atere suddenly resigned his appointment before the outcome of his probe was released.
He now lectures at a different Nigerian university.
A separate report by this newspaper also showed how a professor at the University of Lagos was accused of sexually harassing a female student.
In May 2018, Joy Nwanna, a student of the institution, accused Olusegun Awonusi, a professor of English and former Vice-Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, of “habitual sexual harassment”.
The university is yet to take any action despite pledging to investigate the allegations.