The Senate has begun investigation of the case of sexual harassment at the Obafemi Awolowo University involving a postgraduate student, Miss Monica Osagie; and a lecturer at the Accounting Department, Prof. Richard Akindele.
The investigation was based on a motion moved at the plenary on Wednesday by Senator Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti-South), entitled, ‘The Growing Trend of Sexual Harassment in the Higher Institutions of Learning: The Case of Monica Osagie.’
The lawmakers resolved to mandate the Committees on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters “to carry out a full-scale investigation of the case of Monica Osagie and the OAU lecturer in order to ensure that there is transparency and accountability, and that satisfactory justice is done to the victim involved and our laws are further strengthened for effectiveness.”
They also asked the joint committee to “invite the OAU authorities to explain the steps they have taken and the outcome of their internal investigation on the matter as well as institutional reviews they have carried out, together with such further proposals aimed at nipping the problem in the bud.”
The Senate also urged the House of Representatives to quickly concur with the Senate’s bill, Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill, which had been transmitted to the House “as this will provide succour and a window of solace for victims of these kinds of atrocities across the country in our higher institutions of learning.”
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, in his ruling, recalled that the Senate passed the anti-sexual harassment bill in 2016, stating that the leadership of the chamber would ensure that the House concurs with it.
Saraki added, “More importantly, we must make an example of this to ensure that we do a thorough investigation, and any member of the Obafemi Awolowo University found to be involved must be totally disciplined.
“We must really show that we do not stand for this; we are not going to tolerate it pending when the bill will be passed. We also commend the bravery of Monica Osagie for her efforts.”
Moving the motion, Olujimi said the Senate observed “the growing menace and culture of sexual harassment in our institutions of higher learning; and the psychological, physiological and emotional damage that perverts in our places of learning are bringing upon our children in school as a result.”
She recalled that it was for the reason that the Senate, in October 2016, passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill, which prescribed “severe punishment for lecturers and academic staff of universities who either sexually harass or assault their male or female students.”
Olujimi said, “The Senate acknowledges that the case of the brave Nigerian and student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Monica Osagie, who, in an audio recording which went viral, was able to expose her lecturer demanding for sex in order to increase her grades.
“This has further brought home the point, further justifying the specificity and target of the new bill, and the need to ensure that this perversion is completely kicked out of our places of learning.
“The Senate understands that the university authorities have since weighed in on the matter to ensure that justice is done. It notes that this is another matter that must not be swept under the carpet of expediency, forgetfulness or deliberate abandonment.
“The Senate notices further that this particular case deserves greater scrutiny and attention as it signposts how serious we are as a nation to fully and exhaustively eliminate this perversion from our schools.”
Seconding the motion, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos-East), said, “We cannot pretend that sexual harassment do not exist in our higher institutions. This is an age-long behaviour on the part of lecturers particularly. There have been several reported cases of sexual harassment which have been swept under the carpet.”