BOLA BADMUS, TUNBOSUN OGUNDARE, AKIN ADEWAKUN, OLALEKAN OLABULO and SEGUN KASALI dug into the massive sex industry in Lagos ivory towers.
AS the Nigerian university community grapples with the latest round of scandalous sex-for-grades exposé in the Federal Government-owned University of Lagos, a bigger challenge seems to be in the offing as plans are reportedly underway to conduct nationwide sting operations in the nation’s ivory towers to stem the embarrassing tide once and for all, Saturday Tribune has learnt.
This is just as the police in Lagos State described the viral video of the scandal as still “an open intelligence source.” They said although they had begun investigations into the scandal, they would wait for the conclusion of the investigations of the panel set up by the university before taking further actions.
The state police spokesman, Bala Elkana, disclosed that the police would prosecute the case if the need arises at the end of the investigations by the UNILAG panel. He added that the panel would afford the police the opportunity to see many other victims who might have suffered harassment at the hands of the exposed lecturers.
Elkana said: “We picked the story from the internet just like any other person and we are treating it as an Open Intelligence Source. Our experts will analyse the content and see if there is any evidence that can be used in the prosecution of the case in a law court. There is already an internal panel set up by the institution and the police from the local division of the area are part of the panel. We will wait till the conclusion of the investigation of the panel and we will go ahead with the prosecution if there is any need. The outcome of the investigation by the panel will make it easier for some of the victims of the incident to appear before the police for proper investigations and prosecution.”
The international dimension to the latest scandal, which has already consumed two lecturers of the university is said to have majorly informed the current move to spread a dragnet for as many erring lecturers as possible.
Saturday Tribune learnt that the involvement of prominent personalities like the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari and wife of the Ekiti State governor, Chief (Mrs) Bisi Fayemi, in the ongoing advocacy to ensure that the scourge is eradicated from the nation’s tertiary institutions as well as other lower levels of education is giving a lot of impetus to the push to expose randy lecturers and teachers.
Although details of the new push and strategy are still sketchy, it has been established that a major loophole in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) African Eye project, which is using a non-student as the main bait would be plugged this time around.
The indicted professor of Political Science, Yaw Gyampo, in the University of Ghana, has been able to explain away his sexual indiscretion exposed in the undercover project of the medium because the reporter that was used to bait him was not a student. The school authorities sided with him on this, claiming that what the decency code of the institution covers is inappropriate relationship between lecturers and students. Gyampo had said he planned to sue the BBC.
Considering the fact that the indicted UNILAG lecturers, Dr Boniface Igbeneghu and Dr Samuel Oladipo might also want to latch on to the same argument to try to extricate themselves from the allegations of abusing their positions, the new thinking in the public space is said to favour using female undergraduates to lure randy lecturers into traps set for them. This thinking is receiving favourable consideration in view of the fillip it is expected to give the prosecution in sending randy teachers to jail. Female undergraduates reporting harassment are likely to be encouraged to serve as bait to catch their tormentors while their fingers are in the jar.
Campaigners against sexual harassment and sex for grades in the nation’s tertiary institutions have continued to call for the prosecution of offenders, insisting that until professors and other senior lecturers and teachers in post-primary schools start going to jail on account of harassing their students, it would be almost impossible to stem the ugly tide.
However, lack of credible evidence was said to the bane of the prosecution of past cases.
Why FG may step in —NUC
Saturday Tribune sought to know how the minds of major stakeholders in the education sector are working and found what suggested a lack of synergy as being accountable for the festering of the scourge within the university system. On an issue of this nature, it is expected that the National Universities Commission (NUC), being the universities regulatory agency in the country, would be concerned. Yes, it is, according to its Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Yakassai.
Yakassai, in an interview with Saturday Tribune, explained that the agency was not only concerned about the matter but it was also happy that the media had been proactive and assisting the agency in the fight against sexual harassment in universities.
According to him, NUC, on the one hand, is unhappy about the frequency of sexual harassment cases in our universities, but on the other hand, it is delighted that lecturers indulging in the act are being exposed. He said there was a government order to universities to take decisive actions on this kind of issue and UNILAG had already acted accordingly by suspending the two lecturers involved and constituting an investigative panel.
Yakassai said: “The NUC is fully backing the action because it is expected of lecturers to stand in loco parentis to students – standing like parents to them in schools. So, we are in full support of exposing bad eggs in the system and insist that the universities take appropriate actions. That is why we are happy because this case in question is beyond insinuation.”
He pointed out that what the NUC always canvassed for were facts and proofs for it to act, and not insinuations. He noted that it had been difficult all along as people who made similar allegations refused to come out boldly as victims.
But when asked if the roles of the NUC were restricted to accreditation of courses and had nothing to do with socials like the operation of clubs in the universities, he said the agency, as the regulator, corrected any bad thing in the system. University staff clubs, according to him, are allowed globally. This is because, he explained, lecturers especially those living on campus, are not expected to be going out of campus to socialise outside.
“So, there are social clubs for them but the intention was never (and still is not) for them to be turning staff clubs to a place where female students will be molested. That is not the purpose for staff clubs in any university. The place is meant to be a dignified spot where lecturers can gather to discuss and socialise. So, why should the bad eggs now turn where knowledge is supposed to flow into something else?” he said.
On the possibility of the NUC playing a role in the investigations, he said the university had already taken the right steps by suspending the affected lecturers and setting up a panel to investigate them. “The only thing for us, as regulator, is that the school must feed us with its finding and for the government to be satisfied that the due process of the law was followed. That is all the NUC wants. And if not satisfied, the government can then intervene,” Yakassai added.
No complaints made to us –Education ministry
The Federal Ministry of Education said issues like this, notwithstanding their magnitude, should be left for the concerned authorities to handle. The Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the ministry, Mr Ben Goong, who said this in an interview with Saturday Tribune, hinged the reason for the ministry’s non-interference in such matters on the autonomous status of universities.
According to him, issues that involve disciplinary actions in any of “our universities” cannot be referred to the ministry to handle.
Goong said: “There are channels and procedures on ground in every university or higher educational institution to follow as regards disciplinary matters. Disciplinary matters can be handled either at department or management level. And if the issue involved is beyond the management, the Senate of that university will handle it and if it is beyond the Senate, the governing council will step in and ends there. That is how it is being done and with results. But, of course, the ministry has not received any formal complaint on the issue in question and even if a complaint comes, the senate or governing council will be able to handle it.”
We won’t speak for now –Lagos sex offender agency
Saturday Tribune tried casting its net wide to cover major tertiary institutions in Lagos State, both federal and state-owned. Apart from visits to UNILAG, Saturday Tribune was also on the campus of the Lagos State University (LASU) where interesting findings were also made. The institution is still smarting from a sex scandal that rocked it about a year ago, which consumed three lecturers. Considering the fact that the commission of the alleged crime by Boniface and Oladipo in the jurisdiction of the Lagos State government which is constitutionally empowered to prosecute them, Saturday Tribune asked the concerned agency, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, the fate that awaits the duo if indicted for the alleged offence.
The agency’s boss, Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, when contacted, said she would not speak until a certain press statement on the matter was released to the public. She was not categorical on when the agency would make an official comment.
“I am unable to comment on that [UNILAG sex scandal] for now. The agency is planning to issue a press statement very soon and once that is done, I can talk further on the issue,” she said. Her office is expected to give an advisory to the office of the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice on whether the alleged offenders would have their day in court as being clamoured in the public space.
Departmental sex cult
Though it is generally perceived that the ivory tower community has become one huge sex industry and that only the “unlucky” players are the ones being caught, findings in UNILAG showed that cases of open solicitation of sex by lecturers from well-endowed female students during chance encounters; lazy female students seeking favours, including extra marks from their lecturers, and willingly offering their bodies; male students showering lecturers with gifts to pass their courses, including pimping willing female colleagues for the said lecturers and even female lecturers “making out” with male students serving as their gigolo and getting good grades for their “services” are open secrets there.
When Saturday Tribune visited the university, many students avoided discussing what was said to be an age-long practice of female students being used “to top up lecturers’ meager salaries.” But a few brave ones related the experiences of their colleagues in a certain department where they claimed sexual harassment is rife.
An alumnus of the university spoke anonymously with Saturday Tribune on the existence of a “cold room” at the staff club of the university, as alluded to in the BBC documentary. The alumnus, who is also a parent, said what Dr Igbeneghu “erroneously” referred to as cold room was actually known as “cool room.” He said it was a comfortable meeting place away from noise at the club downstairs. When Saturday Tribune visited the “cool room” on Wednesday, it was locked.
“Cool room is a place where we usually have meetings away from the noise downstairs at the club. It is the only place in the senior staff club that Air Conditioning (AC) system is installed and it is for meetings, not the way it was portrayed in the documentary by Dr Boniface. To me, he was trying to impress the smart girl and one can say at a point it was a Nollywood movie because someone was also in the office with them when he was demonstrating all the rubbish,” the alumnus said.
When asked about another joint in the school known as the hell fire where senior lecturers allegedly smoke cigarettes and marijuana, he denied the existence of such a spot. “Hell fire? I am not aware of that. Let that person making the claim lead us to the hell fire,” he stated.
Persecuted for sex
A student in one of the faculties in the university had told Saturday Tribune before now that a lecturer, an easterner, got on her case once he realised that she was more than 18 years despite her small stature. She said the lecturer gave her an “F” in his course after she rejected his proposal to have sex with her. She claimed she was also expecting an “F” in another course the lecturer was handling.
The victim said: “In 100-level when I came to check my result that was pasted on the frontage of the lecturer’s office, he met with me and advised I performed well in the subsequent courses. Consequently, he started taking me as his school daughter not until one day he stumbled on my birth certificate and discovered that I was more than 18 years old. He said he thought I was under 18 and that was why he was not showing any romantic affection towards me but as from that day, I ceased to become his daughter and he started demanding sex from me but I resisted it.
“A few hours to my examination on a literature course, he called to wish me good luck. I was stupefied. When the examination started, he came into the hall and started making me uncomfortable by changing me from one seat to another and asking me to stand up for some minutes for offences that I did not commit. After the examination, he called and told me to expect the worst result. He reminded me that I still had another course with him and urged me to dance to his tunes but I resisted. I saw the result of my examination in that course and it was an ‘F’. I am sure that when the result of the second course that he taught us is pasted, I will also get an ‘F’.
A student of another department also claimed that a lecturer (a Yoruba) had called her many times to see him in his office. According to her, whenever he saw her, he made amorous gestures to her. She said she never visited him in his office because she was aware of the consequence of doing so.
About a year ago, the Lagos State University (LASU) dismissed three lecturers for alleged sexual assaults on students. While two of them allegedly lured their students to their offices to sleep with them, the third was alleged to be in the habit of sedating his victims before sleeping with them in the laboratory. The university sacked them based on recommendations of the disciplinary committee of the university.
When the vice chancellor of the institution, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, was contacted by Saturday Tribune, he said the institution still considered any form of sexual harassment as distasteful. According to him, every system has the good, the bad and the ugly.
Professor Fagbohun said: “In LASU, I will not say that every lecturer is good but I will say with a high measure of confidence that the majority of our academic and non-academic staff members are amazing individuals. But, no doubt, we have a few bag eggs, who are less than two per cent of our population, and we are rooting out of the system with the support of the entire university community. They are all supporting the management in this regard and that is why our whistle-blowing policy is yielding great results. You will see that all the cases in the past that we had detected were through the policy. The person that we caught in chemistry department sometime last year was through the whistle-blower, ditto the other that was caught at the college of medicine. So, the whistle blowing policy is working very well because students are aware that their confidentiality will be protected. And you will also see that the authorities do not spare anybody involved in unethical practices from punishment, including dismissal, once due process is followed.”
When asked if LASU staff club possibly had a replica of UNILAG’s “cold room,” he said he knew for a fact that nothing of the sort existed in LASU. “If there is anything like ‘cold room’ in LASU, students would have exposed that on the internet and by now, it would be trending on the social media, especially because of the UNILAG incident. They would have said come to XYZ in LASU but they have not done that because there is no such facility,” the vice chancellor explained. He emphasised that LASU’s zero tolerance for sexual harassment remained sacrosanct.
Corroborating the claim, the president of the students union of the institution, Mr Tayo Oladele, told Saturday Tribune that truly, every LASU lecturer now knew that there was nothing hidden again in the university. He explained that an application called LASUMonitor was being really helpful in curtailing unethical practices not only among lecturers but also among students and other members of the university community.
The issue of sexual harassment is one of the chief reasons the app, which was designed by the computer department of the university and can be accessed by both staff and students, was developed. “This section allows you to report any sexual misconducts experienced on campus. The report will be dispatched to the appropriate quarters and will invoke the university’s internal investigative processes. Other report validation techniques are also included,” Oladele said. The student leader said with this and the whistle-blowing policy, students were not afraid to report any untoward attitude of any lecturer.
A 300-level female student who refused to mention her name told Saturday Tribune that she had never been sexually harassed and neither did she know of anyone that was harassed by any lecturer in her department. “The only thing I know is that lecturers in my department are strict and disciplined,” she said.
Randy lecturers need prayers –CAN
It is worthy of note that in the recent sex scandals involving OAU and UNILAG, Christian elders were among the fallen lecturers. Secretary of the Lagos branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Elder Israel Akinadewo, when contacted by Saturday Tribune, said: “My own response is very simple: let us continue to pray for Nigeria. Our role as church leaders is to continue to pray. There are lots of vices out there, so let us continue to pray for ourselves as citizens and for our country. That is it. Asked about the affected so-called men of God and what could be done for them outside of prayer, he said: “I have just told you my mind. I said we were going to pray. That is the way we should be thinking. We must pray for our nation.”Read Full Story