By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—ACADEMIC Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has rejected the ongoing Sexual Harrassment Offences Bill, in the Senate, saying that the bill was targeted at lecturers.
The body, which described the bill as vindictive, insisted that it undermines university autonomy.
Speaking yesterday, in Abuja, at a public hearing on the bill, organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, ASUU, through its president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, asked the Senate in particular and the National Assembly, in general not to allow the bill have its way.
According to him, the nation’s universities and tertiary institution as a whole, were established by law as autonomous bodies and so, have their regulating roles.
Professor Ogunyemi said the existing laws prescribed punishments over misconduct generally among both staff and students, adding that the law clearly articulated appropriate redress mechanism.
“Any law or bill which seeks to supplant these laws violates the university autonomy. In this particular instance, the bill violates the Federal Government of Nigeria and ASUU agreement of 2009 and as such should be rejected,” he said.
He also said the bill was discriminatory because it was targeted at educators, insisting that it was unfair to come up with such a bill.
He stressed that sexual harassment was a societal problem and not peculiar to tertiary institutions and so tertiary institutions should not be singled out for such law, adding that the proposed bill was a violation of Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution, noting that it was embarrassing that the legislative arm could seek to make such law that violated the constitution.
Ogunyemi also pointed out that besides violating the constitution, the bill failed to take cognizance of various extant legislations that adequately dealt with sexual offences.
He faulted the bill, saying it failed to provide convincing evidence to show that sexual harassment in tertiary institutions had attained a higher magnitude than other spheres of the society.