By Ike Onyechere, Founding Chairman, Exam Ethics Marshals International
26,373 parents, staff, students and other concerned stakeholders have signed the petition to Nigeria’s House of Representatives to fast track action on granting concurrence to the Sexual Harassment Prohibition Bill passed by the Senate on 7th July 2020.
The titled “A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other Matters Concerned Therewith, 2019” has already been forwarded to the Lower House for Concurrence by the Senate.
This is not the first time the Senate will pass and forward the Bill to the Lower House for concurrence. The Bill was first passed and forwarded to the House in 2016. The House then declined to grant concurrence and allowed the Bill to languish and expire with the 8th National Assembly. The Bill was re-introduced in the 9th Assembly in October 2019.
The passing of the Bill by the Senate on 7th July 2020 is only the first of three stages the Bill must pass through to become law. The second stage is concurrence by the Lower House while the third and final stage is for Mr. President to grant his ascent to make the Bill a Law.
Whether or not the Bill will be successfully passed into law has turned into a battle of wits between parents, students, educators, legislators, leaders, and citizens of conscience on one side against sexual predators masquerading as lecturers and their enablers on the other side. The sexual predators won the battle of 2016 when they successfully ambushed and sabotaged the concurrence of the Bill at the lower house after it had been passed by the Senate.
It is in a bid to ensure that the enactment of the Bill into law is not truncated again at any stage that Exam Ethics Marshals International (EEMI), on November 1, 2019, launched the campaign to mobilize stakeholders of conscience to sign the on-line petition for Nigeria’s 9th National Assembly to fast-track action on passage of Sexual Harassment Law.
26,373 citizens have so far signed the petition as at the time of this article on 14th July 2020. The focus of the campaign now is for the House of Reps to grant quick concurrence to the Bill. Please join to sign the petition by clicking on the link https://www.change.org/p/the-national-assemby-abuja-join-the-movement-petition-against-sex-for-grade-in-tertiary-schools
Your support of this petition is critical. To highlight the importance and refocus the minds of Members of House of Reps and citizens of conscience, a recap of some sex-for-grade incidents that embarrassed and diminished all Nigerians is necessary.
Sex-for-Grade is the practice of lecturers blackmailing, forcing, intimidating and demanding sex from their students as pre-condition for awarding them pass marks in their courses. It is the most dehumanizing of the 33 types of examination malpractice destroying Nigeria’s educational system.
Sex-for-grade became so rampant that Senator Omo-Agege and 57 other Senators introduced the Sexual Prohibition Bill in the 8th Senate. The Senate passed the Bill and forwarded it to the Lower House for concurrence in 2016 after disregarding arguments that it was male lecturers that are being harassed by “irresistible temptations from scantily dressed, satanically tasty female students”; that the Bill is discriminatory and exposed male lecturers to blackmail; that the bill did not cover work places and religious houses where sexual harassments are also rampant; etc.
Unfortunately, the Lower House of 8th National Assembly succumbed to the well-oiled public relations blitz of sexual predators and refused to grant concurrence to the Bill.
The result was unprecedented rise of sex-for-grade related sexual harassment of female students in higher institutions so much so that it attracted national opprobrium and global media attention.
To focus the minds of Hon. Members of the House of Reps and other citizens of conscience, a recap of some sex-for-grade incidents that embarrassed and diminished all Nigeria and Nigerians is in order.
A few examples will illustrate the scope.
In August 2016, a 30-minutes video clip of a senior lecturer of Osun State University forcing one of his female students in a hotel room went viral on social media.
The Premium Times of December1, 2016 reported dismissal of 12 lecturers of Auchi Polytechnic and demotion of 16 others by the National Board for Technical Education for sexual abuse of female students.Uncompromising students were forced to “hire prostitutes or beg their girlfriends to sleep with lecturers on their behalf in order to be awarded pass marks… the lecturers selected hotels of their choice and the affected students payed the hotel bills which include the meals before the action”
In September 2017, a recorded audio conversation of a Professor of Obafemi Awolowo University demanding sex from a female student went viral on social media.
In July 2018, a Professor of Lagos State University was caught pants down sexually assaulting his female student.
In June 2019, a 29-second video clip of a lecturer of Ekiti State University attempting to force his female student into having sex with him also went viral on social media.
Daily Trust of August 4, 2019 and other newspapers reported the scandal of a lecturer and Dean of University of Abuja caught in a hotel room with one of his students.
The Guardian Newspaper reported the case of Kano State Polytechnic disowning its lecturer involved in sexual harassment of a female student in August 2019.
In October, a BBC documentary air all over the world reported how lecturers preyed on female students in University of Lagos.
Beyond tertiary institutions, sexual abuse is also rampant in primary and secondary schools. Sahara reporters of October 24, 2019 recounted the story of a supervisor of a secondary school in Lekki, who (allegedly) raped a two-year –old pupil. The story goes on and on in virtually all tertiary institutions.
The Sex-for-Grade scandal reached the level where President Buhari, devoted almost his whole speech at the 35th convocation of University of Ilorin on 24th Oct. 2019 to address the issue.
He said that “It is most reprehensible that while some of our illustrious university staff are making concerted effort to improve the continental and global ranking of Nigerian Universities, such efforts are being overshadowed by the negative reputation of immorality and shame brought upon our citadels of higher learning by the irresponsibility of a few misguided academics… for the avoidance of doubt all culprits face the full wrath of the law”. Mr. President indicated his readiness to grant assent immediately the Bill is presented to him.
We end by reminding Members of the Lower House that this in not just about “female students”. It is about our (and your) children, daughters, grand-daughters, sisters, wives, friends and relations. Consider the psychological trauma they are being subjected to through sexual blackmail, abuse and harassment just to get pass marks and avoid the shame of failure by sexual predators masquerading as lecturers. Citizens of conscience have risen to ensure that the situation cannot and will not stand. Please help us. Grant concurrence to the Bill so that it can be transmitted to Mr. President who has already promised to grant assent as soon as he receives it.
By Ike Onyechere, Founding Chairman, Exam Ethics Marshals International