Senate revisits Sexual Harassment Bill, seeks five years jail term for offenders in schools

Senate revisits Sexual Harassment Bill, seeks five years jail term for offenders in schools

As suggested on Monday by former Sennate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the Senate is revisiting the sexual harassment bill sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) and passed by the 8th Senate.

The Bill, introduced by the 8th Senate in October 2016 seeks a five-year jail term and five million naira fine for lecturers convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.

According to the bill, an educator will be “guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he/she has sexual intercourse with a student who is less than 18 years of age; has sexual intercourse with a student or demands sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to study in an institution, or as a condition to the giving of a passing grade or the granting of honour and scholarships.”

 The bill prescribes that: “Any person who commits any of the acts specified in Section 4 of this Act is guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years, but not less than two years without any option of a fine.”

The bill, however, suffered a major setback as it was not given Presidential assent after its passage by the 8th Senate.

Some lawmakers, who were against its passage, had argued that it should be more inclusive and not discriminatory or targeted only at university lecturers.

The reintroduced bill is sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege.

Recall that after the release of a video by BBC Africa exposing a University of Lagos lecturer, Dr. Boniface Igheneghu, making sexual advances to a reporter posing as a 17 years old admission seeker, Saraki advised President Muhammadu Buhari and the National assembly to revisit the sexual harassment bill.

On his Twitter handle the former Senate President said: “As a father, I’m appalled by the actions of lecturers captured in the #SexForGrades exposé. We cannot allow this sort of deplorable behaviour to fester.”

“In 2016, my colleagues and I in the Eighth Senate passed the ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill’ to prescribe 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 such conduct.”

“I appeal to the Ninth Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit this Bill so that we can implement the institutional reforms necessary to safeguard our children in educational institutions in the country.

“I also urge the institutions to conduct robust investigations, not only on the accused but also for all other reports and complaints that come in.”

“We need to believe victims and make institutions safer for our students.”

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