CAJA appeals to Tinubu to assent to the Sexual Harassment (Prohibition) Bill

A coalition of civil society groups, under the auspices of Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability has made a passionate appeal to President Bola Tinubu to assent to the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions (Prohibition) Bill.

The appeal was made during a strategic consultative meeting with heads of selected tertiary institutions across Nigeria.

The meeting is to create awareness on the establishment of proposed Independent Sexual Harassment Prohibition Committees in tertiary institutions held in Abuja.

The statement was made available to newsmen on Monday in Abuja.

The Executive Director, Centre for Awareness on Justice and Accountability (CAJA), Kabiru Dakata, reiterated the need for a law to address the alarming rate of prevalence of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

“We have a cluster called Anti -Sexual Harassment Advocacy Cluster which is a consortium of different civil society organisations from different states in Nigeria working in a collaborative way to address the problem of sexual harassment.

“We receive complaints from students who are survivors of sexual harassments from different tertiary Institutions. 

“We are working with some of them and we have seen the effects of sexual harassment on them and our findings reveal that there is no strong law or policy to address this menace. 

“We believe that the President’s assent to this Bill which has long been passed by the National Assembly and now before Mr. President for assent will address the challenges.”

Other speakers at the one day event include Samira Modibbo who spoke on “The Concept and Effects of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions”. 

In a paper titled “Highlights of the Sexual Harassment (Prohibition) Bill”, a Deputy Director and  Mentor of the ICPC Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Office Response Team (SHART), Adenekan Shogunle,  said that the ICPC supports the promulgation of the bill because it has all the elements of a good law.

“It provides clarity on the kind of relationship that should exist between a student and an educator. It is a fiduciary relationship based on trust and authority and not a transactional relationship based on quid pro quo. 

“Under the proposed law, there is no room for any kind of amorous relationships between students and educators. The proposed law also provides very clear grievance remedial procedures for aggrieved persons and specific timelines and penalties for action to be taken on all complaints by administrators of tertiary institutions.

“There is no room to slipping anything under the carpet. It is an initiative from the legislature and such laws will strengthen the work of the ICPC in its effort to eradicate all forms of corrupt practices and abuse of office in the society,” he said. 

Shogunle further said that the Sexual Harassment (Prohibition) Bill, when assented to by the president, will further complement and enhance the work of the ICPC. 

 “What we investigate and  prosecute is corruption and abuse of office. It means, when you use your office or position to take advantage of other people, you have used your position to get corrupt benefits for yourself.

“In some institutions where people are given powers to exercise over others, some people abuse their powers over students by using their position to confer corrupt advantage upon themselves. For example, we have seen cases where someone demands for bribe before providing a service or performing the duties of his office or position.  

“We have seen that unfortunately in the case of some tertiary institutions, educators demand for money and sexual gratification to pass their students.”

“It is an offence under Section 8,9,  10 and Section 19 of the ICPC Act for anybody who is occupying a position of trust to abuse that office to his own advantage and to the disadvantage of others, which is practically what some of these educators are doing when they take advantage of their students.

“Under the ICPC Act, official gratification is a prohibited crime punishable with seven years imprisonment. Gratification is not necessarily given or received in Naira and Kobo. It can be benefit of any kind”. 

Barr Shogunle warned that under its new Chairman, Dr Musa Adamu, SAN, the ICPC will work with all relevant stakeholders to fight sexual harassment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

The session was attended by vice chancellors, provosts and deans of students affairs of several institutions.

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