Pro-Chancellor promises investigation
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Funmilayo Ogundare in Lagos
A former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki ; Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin; and Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria have expressed anger over sex-for-grade incident involving a lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG)
These reactions followed a video exposing a lecturer of the UNILAG, making sexual demands from an admission seeker.
Reacting to the sordid exposure in the BBC Africa Eye’s latest investigative documentary, Atiku said such predatory attitude was unacceptable, and required systemic strategies to put deterrence to such behaviour
Atiku in a statement signed by his media aide, Paul Ibe said, “as a father and promoter of education, Atiku Abubakar believes that we should not allow a trend that is psychologically abusive to young women to thrive. In fact, that’s a direct opposite of what a sound educational system represents.
“The overwhelming outrage, outpouring of examples and outright naming of perpetrators means that unless something is done, and expeditiously too, young people might begin to take the laws into their own hands.
Moreover, there is a compelling need to focus on helping the victims to also cope with their turmoil – at least one person wanted to kill herself three times”.
He recommended punitive, exemplary measures and swift continuous legislation to stem this “epidemic”.
Reacting to the incident, Babalakin said, “having seen the BBC report – I got wind of it this morning that there was such a report. On behalf of the council, we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment. We will investigate the matter thoroughly, and anybody found wanting, will have to face the consequences according to the laws of the university. Students must not be made to suffer for anything and your marks must be directly commensurate with your performance. Any other thing is not scholarly and will not be tolerated.”
Saraki, on his part, charged President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to revisit the sexual harassment bill.
The bill prescribed, among others, a five-year jail term for any lecturer, educationist or person in a position of authority in any tertiary institution in Nigeria found guilty of sexual misconduct.
A UNILAG lecturer was exposed in a video by BBC Africa where an undercover journalist, Kiki Mordi, disguised as a 17-year-old admission seeker.
The lecturer, Boniface Igbeneghu, is a former sub-dean of the Faculty of Art and head pastor of a local Foursquare Gospel Church.
The lecturer was alleged to have invited the student to his office and sexually harassed her.
In a 13-minute video, Igbeneghu told Kiki Mordi, the undercover reporter, how some lecturers in the institution tossed female students for sex.
He had invited the teenager to his office for a number of tutorials, before delving into sexual conversations with her.
The lecturer went to the bathroom, upon his return, he locked the door, switched off the light and embraced the “admission seeker.”
Igbeneghu also described the secret place where lecturers meet to “touch students breast” in a staff club of the university.
“They call the place cold room,” he said, adding that female students must pay to have good grades.
Several Nigerians online have called for proactive measures against the lecturer.
“We need to believe victims and make institutions safer for our students.”
On its part, the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria has asked Igbeneghu to step down from all “ministerial assignments.”
Igbeneghu, who is a part-time pastor in the church, is a lecturer at the University of Lagos.
In a statement, the church dissociated itself from the conduct of the lecturer.
“The attention of the leadership of The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria has been drawn to a video clip trending on social media platforms titled ‘Sex for grades: Undercover in West Africa Universities – BBC News’ wherein a lecturer in University of Lagos named Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu also described as a pastor in Foursquare Gospel Church was allegedly involved in sexual misconduct with some female students of the University,” the statement
“The general public is hereby informed that as a holiness and Bible-believing Church, we do not condone such heinous and unscriptural act among our ministers. We totally dissociate ourselves from the purported conduct of Dr. Igbeneghu and promise to take appropriate measure as soon as the ongoing investigation is concluded.
“Meanwhile, the pastor in question has been asked to step down from all ministerial assignments.”