The Women’s Network, an influential women’s rights group, has implored President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to give his assent to the recently passed Sexual Harassment Bill by the 9th National Assembly. This plea aligns with their recommendation for Nigerian educational establishments to implement robust sexual and gender harassment policies. These steps aim to protect the dignity of female students and foster a secure learning environment.
The plea gained momentum during a recent meeting in Calabar. Mrs Ladi Bala, President of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, spotlighted the case of the Faculty of Law’s female students at the University of Calabar. They allegedly faced intimidation and harassment from Prof Cyril Ndifon, the now-suspended Dean. This isn’t the first accusation against him, and the group emphasizes the need for justice.
The meeting, sponsored by the Women’s Voice and Leadership Project of ActionAid Nigeria and backed by Global Affairs, Canada, echoed the sentiment that exchanging grades for sexual favors or similar misconduct is reprehensible. The actions of senior academics, like Prof. Ndifon with over 30 years of service, are especially disappointing.
While the group applauded the proactive suspension of Prof Ndifon by UNICAL’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Florence Banki, they are pressing for a thorough investigation and subsequent prosecution. They believe this could serve as a deterrent to others.
Furthermore, the Women’s Network called on educational leaders nationwide to provide platforms for students, especially females, to speak out against sexual and gender-based misdeeds. The group acknowledged the bravery of UNICAL’s law students who protested against such misconduct.
They warned that unchecked incidents of harassment not only tarnish institutions like UNICAL but are pervasive throughout Nigerian campuses. Without proper legislation, these acts will persist, hindering the progress and well-being of female students.