The University of Lagos (UNILAG) has emphasised the need for management of universities across the country to intensify efforts in ensuring effective measures to tackle sexual harassments.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
According to him, the issue of ‘sex for marks’ in the country’s university system remains a hydra-headed monster that must be tackled without further delay.
“Recall that some foremost universities in the country had been in the news in the recent past, over cases of sexual harassment by lecturers.
“Some of the lecturers involved had, however, been found guilty based on established evidence provided by their victims before probe panels, which eventually led to their outright dismissal.
“The University of Lagos [UNILAG] had zero tolerance for the ugly trend and would do all it could to ensure that such standard was not compromised.
“As heads of these universities, I think there is need to step up efforts in ensuring that this unhealthy development is stamped out from the system.
“I think these are some of the issues we should continue to highlight each time we meet as heads of universities.
“This is because to the best of my knowledge, there is no vice-chancellor in any Nigerian university that will encourage such act.
“Honestly speaking, I do not see any reason for any lecturer to harass students. They ordinarily should be their guardians or mentors.
“I see no reason why lecturers should give students conditions before they could pass their examination or get their results. And this is something that I have been talking about, students should start recording what goes on between them and lecturers.
“In UNILAG, we have a channel through which we get information from these students, who are bold enough to come out and report such. The counselling unit are up to the task in getting them speak and they will transmit same to us. Like I said, what we need is for the students to speak up,” he said.
According to him (the UNILAG VC), he has always condemned the unhealthy development at various fora, stressing the trend is not good for the growth of the system.
“Currently, there are cases that we are looking into in UNILAG and I want to say that we will not compromise standard, as we will ensure that we take appropriate actions on such cases.
“One major step is that any student, whether male or female that falls victim to this should write to me directly. They should write and forward to my email and once this is done, I will act on it immediately.
“As far as the university (UNILAG) is concerned, we will never tolerate or compromise standard on such because it is not the best for the university, nor the best for education,” Ogundipe said.
He noted, however, that the students on their part must tread with caution.
The UNILAG vice chancellor said students, especially the females, must ensure they dress properly at all times.
The professor of Botany cautioned students against indecent dressing to lecture halls and around the campus, saying such could only expose them to danger.
“We always say something in the past, that we should all dress the way we want to be addressed and it is only when we have this at the back of our mind that things will begin to turn out differently,” he said.
Ogundipe (UNILAG VC) noted that students, especially the females, must also ensure that they always move in group, in the evening, just as they should also avoid unnecessary interactions with their lecturers.
According to the vice-chancellor, lecturers need to emphasise this because it is something that is becoming worrisome, not only in Nigeria but globally.
“We must ensure that we lead them aright, give them the best so that we can groom the best for the country.”
On the outcome of the case reported in 2018 by a blogger on alleged sexual harassment by a Professor in the English Department of the university, Ogundipe said the investigation was ongoing.
The UNILAG VC said that a high-level probe committee made up of senior lecturers of the institution had since been set up and that the only setback was the inability to track and get the victim to show up.
According to him, we have been doing everything within our means to get the victim come to us even if she wants to come undercover, she should let us know.
“All efforts to reach her through the telephone lines made available to us has proved abortive.
“So, the case is still open and ongoing, pending when we get all these facts. I want you to know that the case is inconclusive. We are not going to cover anything up.
“As soon as she appears before the committee with established evidence, we will conclude the case and come out with a firm position on the matter.
“I want to assure you that we will not cover up anything,” Ogundipe said.