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Group seeks Tinubu’s assent to sexual harassment bill

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A group, the Women’s Network, has appealed to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to assent to the Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal of Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Bill that was passed by the 9th National Assembly.

The group similarly recommended that educational institutions in Nigeria should, as a matter of necessity, develop a sexual and gender harassment policy to safeguard the dignity of girls with a view to providing a safe environment for learning.

The President of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs. Ladi Bala, made these calls yesterday in Calabar while “demanding justice for all the hapless female students of the Faculty of Law, University of Calabar who have suffered unwarranted intimidation and sexual harassment from Prof. Cyril Ndifon, the suspended Dean of the Faculty of Law.”

NAWOJ, which held the meeting under the umbrella body of the Women’s Network, a women’s rights group, while condemning the alleged sex for grades scandal involving Ndifon, noted that the alleged sexual harassment is the second of such reports against him and stressed that, “as such, justice must be served this time around.”

Bala described “the act as not only appalling and disgusting” but also insisted that “it is unacceptable, to put it mildly.”

The group, also referred to as the Women’s Voice and Leadership Project of ActionAid Nigeria and funded by Global Affairs Canada, stressed in a statement it released in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, during the meeting, that it is wrong for dons or any lecturer, for that matter, to award grades for sex and meet up with related school requirements for similar purposes.

The Women’s Network maintained that it is “further miffed over the allegation because Prof. Ndifon is not only a senior academic staff member but one that has put in over 30 years of service as a lecturer. It is in the light of these anomalies that we not only call for but strongly demand stringent measures against Prof. Ndifon.”

“The unfortunate saga the law professor is being accused of is not only an abuse of his office and the confidence reposed in him by the university authorities, but a betrayal of the appropriate conduct expected of a supposed learned man of his caliber,” the statement added.

Continuing, the women’s group added, “While we commend the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Florence Banki, and the management team of the Institution for the swift action taken by suspending Prof. Cyril Ndifon over the violations of the well-laid rules and regulations of the institution, we, however, insist and demand a full and comprehensive investigation into the condemnable matter as well as ensure proper prosecution of Prof. Ndifon to serve as a deterrent to others with similar behavioral pattern or intention(s).

“Towards this end, we urge the heads of our various educational institutions in the country to, as a matter of public importance, borrow a leaf from the Vice Chancellor of UNICAL by creating a safe space for girls to voice out against sexual and gender-based violence in schools.

“Such proactive measures will go a long way toward creating an environment such as the type that empowered the law students of UNICAL to stage a protest and open up about the constant sexual harassment and abuse of their bodies by lecturers at the institution.

“The incidences of sexual and gender-based violence are not only peculiar to UNICAL but are common on most campuses of tertiary institutions and have been going on unhindered due to a lack of enabling laws,” it declared.

It pointed out that the ugly trend, if not urgently addressed, is capable of truncating the educational and self-development of girls and women.

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