By Grace Audu (ABUJA) –
Two professors in the University of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have been dismissed for the offence of ‘sex-for-marks’, a growing menace in many educational institutions in the country.
Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na-Allah, who made this known, said the institution had gone tough on lecturers sexually harassing students.
He dis not, however, disclose the identities of the affected professors.
Na’Allah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in New York that the university had introduced a policy on sex abuse on campus, which had been published.
Na-Allah, who was on a two–day visit to the U.S., to meet with the University of Abuja Alumni Association, USA chapter, to solicit support for the institution, said, ”female students needed to be protected.”
According to him, the institution is committed to high moral standards and will not tolerate any act of misconduct perpetrated by its staff against students.
“I have dismissed two professors since I became the vice- chancellor. It tells you how we are serious about the issue of sexual harassment.
“We are collaborating with some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to make sure that it is not only us that are addressing this issue, but we have a strong partnership.
“We cannot allow the lives of our students to be destroyed, because most of the abuses destroy the lives of their victims.’’
The vice-chancellor said: ”it was sad to see some lecturers, who are supposed to be protecting the female students, becoming one of their problems.
“This a problem of universities in Nigeria, not only University of Abuja alone.
“But UniAbuja is pursuing it with vigour, because, we know this is one of the issues to address to make our university one of the best in Nigeria.
“As I speak now, there are several investigations ongoing by a committee set up, addressing the problem,’’ he told NAN.
The VC said that the university was working round the clock to make sure the institution become number one in Nigeria, adding that ”the best way is to improve on academics of the student.
“We are trying to provide all the facilities that the students need, for instance, the smart classrooms, internet facilities on campus and other areas.’’
Na-Allah further said that the Centre for Distance Learning (CDL), in the university was among the best in Nigeria, adding that Nigerians in diaspora could take programmes anywhere in the world from the centre virtually.
“People from everywhere in the world are students from first degree up to PhD level at the CDL. Things are easier now; you can even do your defense on zoom.
“We have created a virtual classroom system and we are working with the National University Commission (NUC), to see that its policies are reversed in such a way to support virtual system.
“We are collaborating with the University of Arizona, U.S, because it has a large virtual system and we are exploring relationship for online programmes with the university,’’ he said.
The University of Abuja is a tertiary institution in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, established in January 1988, as a dual-mode University, with the mandate to run conventional and distance learning programmes.
The recent exposure of sexual misconduct or “sex-for-marks” by some Nigerian university lecturers in a 53-minutes video released by a BBC African Eye secret agent, Kiki Mordi, appearing as a young applicant in search of an admission into a Nigerian university, demonstrated how ubiquitous sexual harassment had become in the nation’s higher educational institutions.
The nauseating and recurring problem of sexual harassment of female students by lecturers in Nigerian tertiary institutions in has further attracted the attention of many researchers, including a study carried out by Enobong Mbang Akpambang, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti in Southwest Nigeria on “Sexual Harassment of Female Students by Lecturers in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions: Is the Law Helpless?”.
Akpambang’s study showed that there were various potent provisions under existing Nigerian legislation which could successfully be relied upon in prosecuting harassers.
It also recommended inter alia, that the government and tertiary institutions must consciously take bold steps in tackling this malady so that sexual harassment will not continue to be a critical issue in our tertiary institutions both in the present and the future.