Sexual Harassment: ICPC Vows To Prosecute More Randy Lecturers

The Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on Tuesday, said it was worried about the rise in cases of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions, even as it vowed to prosecute more randy lecturers.

Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Musa Aliyu, SAN, who spoke at a one-day national stakeholders engagement on sexual harassment prevention, said a major way to decisively address the situation, was through “a consistent, persistent, focused, and united campaign.”

He noted that aside from an ongoing criminal case the ICPC instituted against a University professor accused of sexually molesting his female students, the Commission, earlier secured the conviction of another lecture over the same allegation.

According to him, the Commission had a few years ago, in line with its commitment to addressing all forms of corruption, including abuse of office via sexual harassment, executed a project aimed at curbing the malaise.

He said the stakeholders engagement which the ICPC organised in collaboration with Gender Mobile Initiative and Ford Foundation, was to further intensify the fight against sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination in all tertiary institutions in the country.

“The program underscores the need to encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors, especially civil society, to ensure that all hands are on deck to address the various societal ills, such as sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination, which are threatening to tarnish our dear nation’s reputation.

“One of the expected outcomes of that project was the drafting of model anti-sexual harassment policies for various levels of educational institutions.

“It is sadly interesting to note that sexual harassment, though more notorious in tertiary institutions, is quite rampant in primary and secondary institutions, too.

“With the support of the Ford Foundation, the Commission had a series of engagements with stakeholders in the basic education and secondary education sectors to sensitise them, and the office went further to draft a model sexual harassment policy for these institutions.

“In the spirit of partnership, the Commission partnered with Gender Mobile to draft a model policy for tertiary institutions.

“The Federal Ministry of Education approved the policies of the primary and tertiary institutions. They were published together in one document for ease of application, especially for organisations that run both levels of institutions. The document has been distributed to stakeholders.

“The policies are not necessarily meant to be adopted word for word by stakeholders.

“Instead, it is expected that although they may be adopted wholly by any institution that so desires, they should serve as guidelines for what a comprehensive policy should contain.

“In furtherance of this vision, today’s meeting has been convened to ensure no lacuna in the policy design and implementation process by relevant stakeholders.

“Today, our focus is on the model policy for tertiary institutions. In today’s deliberations, I want to encourage us to always keep in mind that anyone, irrespective of status, designation, or gender, staff or student, can be a victim of sexual harassment. Likewise, anyone could be a perpetrator.

“It is a notorious fact that Nigeria has so many laws and policies, but many of them are not being correctly implemented.

“Therefore, proper implementation of the model policies cannot be over-emphasized

“This conference is being held to ensure that the Model Policy for Tertiary Institutions does not end up like many others that need to be adequately implemented.

“With your active participation and engagement, we can make a significant difference in the fight against sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions,” the ICPC boss added.

In her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, said the Federal Government was putting measures in place to tackle the menace through the establishment of mobile courts for speedy prosecution of the perpetrators.

She said the Ministry would also collaborate with hotel owners to deny underaged children access to such facilities and for such situations to be reported to the nearest security agency.

Consequently, the Women Affairs Minister urged all the stakeholders to rise up to the challenge by ensuring that cases of sexual harassment was reduced to barest minimum so as to address the problems of stigmatisation and low self esteem among victims.

On her part, the founder and Executive Director of Gender Mobile Initiative, Ms. Omowumi Ogunrotimi, said the organization was determined to integrate students in the campaign to end sexual harassment in tertiary institutions.

“As far back as 2019, we had a national conference where we validated this policy with a critical mass of stakeholders in the room, including the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education NBTE and even the student community.

“We have NANs female wing which means that this particular process is all inclusive, so that it centres on leadership, participation, aspiration and experiences of persons who are mostly affected by the structural inequity, and that is the student community

“We are really determined to move this initiative forward from here because we know in Nigeria, when policies are made, they do not automatically translate into implementation.

“That is why we have drawn participants from far and wide, with over 25 Commissioners of Education from states of the federation, to participate in this programme,” she added.

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