UNILAG Constitutes Panel To Probe Sexual Harassment Cases
The University of Lagos, Akoka, has set up a panel to investigate two of its lecturers accused of sexually harassing undercover reporters purportedly seeking admission and change the course of study in the institution.
Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, and Dr Samuel Oladipo of the Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, were caught on video in a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary sexually harassing undercover reporters, who sought favour from them.
The institution had announced the suspension of Igbeneghu on Monday, while Oladipo was suspended on Tuesday.
The UNILAG management said on Wednesday through the Principal Assistant Registrar, Communication Unit, Taiwo Oloyede, that it had set up a panel to investigate the two lecturers and other related cases.
It stated that it was awaiting information from the panel set up in June 2018 to investigate allegation of sexual harassment another professor.
Oloyede urged students and members of staff with relevant information that could help the new panel to come forward, adding that their identities would be protected.
She said in a statement, “The University of Lagos management has set up a panel headed by Ayodele Atsenuwa, a professor of Public Law, Faculty of Law, and the incumbent Dean of the faculty.
“The panel will probe allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, and Dr Samuel Oladipo of the Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences as well as other related cases.
“We firmly reassure all our students, staff, alumni, parents and guardians that this matter will be tackled with every sense of responsibility and the seriousness it deserves. The whole process will be transparent and appropriate sanctions will be meted out to anyone found culpable.”
Some students of the University of Lagos have said cases of sex-for-grades are not strange in the institution, adding that the management has not acted on previous reported cases.
Some female students of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, who spoke with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the documentary highlighted what they were facing daily.
One of the students, who identified herself simply as Bola, said the school authority had not acted on previously reported cases, adding that the recent action of the management was because the documentary was done by a foreign media outfit.
Another student, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being victimised, noted that the documentary was not a surprise to her.
She said, “The documentary did not come to me as a surprise, because I had heard about lecturers harassing students even before I gained admission into UNILAG; I also have friends, who have been harassed by lecturers and nothing was done to those lecturers.
“I think the school should prosecute these ones caught on tape.”
An official of the departmental student body, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that sexual harassment by lecturers had been thriving in the school because nobody cared to caution the lecturers.
He said, “The reaction of students to this issue has been massive, because they never expected that Igbeneghu could do such a thing, because he was one of the most respected lecturers in the department.
“Over the years, some female students had reported some lecturers in the department to me, but there is not much we can do as students, because the lecturers are in charge of our grades.”
However, an undergraduate of the Department of Economics, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, described Oladipo as a father to the students, adding that it was unfortunate that the BBC aired the documentary the way it did.
He said, “I think the BBC should have given the clips to the school’s disciplinary committee and give it an ultimatum that if nothing was done about the issue, it would air the documentary. I’m not making excuses for the indicted lecturers, because whoever is caught should be dealt with, but I think there should have been better ways to go about it.”
The student added that the school needed to be rigid on its dress code in order to curb sexual harassment.
One of the lecturers of the institution, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that everybody had their own share of blame. He added that students needed to speak up whenever they were being harassed.
When the Dean of Student Affairs of the institution was contacted to speak on the matter, he declined and referred our correspondent to Oloyede.