· Fault police, FUOYE for protecting violator of child rights
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Women rights activists yesterday asked the Ekiti State Government and the Nigeria Police to prosecute a professor of criminology at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Adewole Atere for allegedly impregnating a 16-year-old student, Miss. Precious Azuka and aborting the pregnancy.
Also, the rights campaigners faulted the Ekiti State Police Command and the management of FUOYE for protecting the professor, who allegedly defiled a minor and flagrantly violated the Child’s Rights Law of Ekiti State, 2006.
The activists made the demand in separate interviews with THISDAY yesterday, contending that the professor had violated the Child Rights’ Law, which prohibited sexual relationship with any person of female gender below 18.
Atere, former Head, Department of Criminology and Security Studies at the university, allegedly impregnated Azuka, who was a student in the same department.
Consequently, the victim opted for abortion, which later became a subject of controversies. She was apprehended after dropping foetus inside the waste can at her hostel.
Before a panel of investigation the university management constituted to unravel the controversies, the victim claimed that the professor was responsible for the pregnancy and paid for the abortion.
The university management had set up a panel, which found Atere guilty and he was immediately shoved out of the system without prosecution.
Faulting the decision to allow the suspect resign from the university while investigation was ongoing, the Executive Director, New Initiative for Girls and Women Development (NIGAWD), Mrs. Abimbola Aladejare frowned at the failure of the police and the university to prosecute the professor.
Aladejare demanded that the case be revisited, lamenting the rate at which lecturers are intimidating female students resulting in unwilling sexual relationship.
According to her, the rate of sexual harassment at the tertiary institutions is on the increase and such has created psychological imbalance for many students.
She said it sounded repulsive that professors, who should be the defenders of the vulnerable students, “are now the ones sexually molesting minors. This has further debased the country’s citadels of learning.
“Asking him to resign was not enough punishment. The professor must be prosecuted accordingly. It showed that there was what we called cabals in the university system and this must be dismantled.
“It surprised many that the police and the university’s management could fail to discharge this duty. Even the parents of the victim also failed in their duty to defend the lady.”
She, therefore, urged all authorities concerned “to play their roles in this issue. The suspect must be punished to serve as deterrent to other filthy and randy professors and academics who force students into sexual relationships.”
Likewise, Executive Director, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion (GRIP), Mrs. Rita Ilevbare urged the victim to speak out and act like a grown up person.
She said the victim “has already attained 18 years. She can now defy the decision of her parents that the lecturer should not be prosecuted after violating the Child’s Rights Law of the state.”
Ilevbare said every sexual violator, especially rape or defilement of minor, “must not be treated with kid’s glove,” though commended the management of the university for its zero tolerance for gender based violence.
She observed that some other institutions would have swept the matter under the carpet, noting that the management of FOUYE sent up an investigative panel that indicted the profession for defiling a minor.
However, Ilevbare contended that the management of FUOYE should have reported the professor “to the Ekiti State Police Command. The victim was then a 16 year old student. By law, particularly Ekiti State, she is a minor.
“The law is that in any issue concerning a child, the state and everybody that is superior to that child must rise to defend the child. The victim is a minor, the proper people who could have complained for her are the university and her parents both failed in this regard.
“In any case, the matter can still be prosecuted. There is need to reach out to her. If she is interested in prosecution, she does not need the consent of her parents or the university as an adult now. She can take that decision.
“I understand that another university had absorbed Atere. I believe he was employed because he is not yet convicted. But I have an advice for that university. You do not put a snake on your roof and go to sleep.”
Ilevbare warned that a known sexual violator, who has been indicted for sexual misconduct, should not be employed without being given rules on how to relate with his students, especially the female folks.
Atere was accused of impregnating Azuka while serving as the head of the Department of Criminology at the university. The unlawful relationship started in January 2017, when the victim was just 16 years old.
Azuka was in her first semester at the university when she met the don in March 2017. She was 16 years old at the time the incident occurred.
The meeting was followed by a message of love from the professor through one of his subordinates in the department, Dr. Chinedu Abrifor.