The management of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in Kaduna State, have terminated the employment of 15 staff.
The management also demoted one academic staff on account of conducts bordering on corruption and sexual harassment.
The university, however, did not disclose the names of the sacked officers
Commending the university, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said in a statement signed by Babatunde Irukera, that the decision was apt and timely.
The statement read: “The Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) welcomes the bold and decisive action of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) authorities terminating the employment of 15 staff and demotion of one academic staff on account of conducts bordering on corruption and sexual harassment.
“The commission notes that this strong disciplinary action followed investigations that established unsolicited and unwelcome sexual advances and behaviour toward members of the school community, illegal allocation of, and alteration of grades, and extortion of students.
“These types of conduct materially affect the entire community, diminish scholarship and negatively skew academic outcomes in a manner that violates the rights of targets of the behaviour and victimises others who are invariably indirect victims.
“The inappropriate behaviour undermines the quality and validity of education and questions the credibility of educational outcomes.
“The commission is further encouraged by ABU’s commitment to a broader and continuing investigation of others within the community.
“In addition, the commission commends ABU for this robust and far-reaching effort and the confidence it restores and promotes in our institutions, systems and processes.
“A transparent, fair and just educational community is vital for all members of the community, especially students, and the commission is keen to ensure that students, as consumers, are afforded the necessary protections, and our campuses are safe and secure always.
“The commission urges educational institutions to pursue aggressive and open initiatives to ensure harassment, corruption and other vices are eradicated from educational systems.”
However, a civil rights group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANA) to tackle the incidence of ‘sexual violations’ of admission seekers and students.
HURIWA said that while reacting to a viral video of a lecturer with the University of Lagos, demanding for sex from a female candidate seeking admission.
The lecturer, Boniface Igbeneghu, is a former sub-dean of Faculty of Art and head pastor of local Foursquare Gospel Church.
His advances were captured in a 13-minute video by BBC Africa.
Reacting to the development, the group, while condemning the university authorities for failing to rein the rampaging group of bullies in the guise of lecturers who have continued to rape female students in exchange for grades and admission, added that sexual harassment of females and males in schools have reached an epidemic dimension demanding comprehensive national panacea.
It, however, proposed the introduction of legislation to stipulate the chemical castration of rapists convicted for violating the dignity of children.
The group said that the proposal for the new law has been sent to the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen; Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.
“In Nigeria, rape is unlawful carnal knowledge of a female by a male. It could be non-consensual sex with an adult female or carnal knowledge of a female child or minor. On the other hand, chemical castration is the use of anaphrodisiac drugs to lower sexual drive. It does not involve removing a person’s testicles like surgical castration but only the use of drugs delivered by injection to render the testicles irrelevant”, the group said.
According to the American Journal of Criminal Law, 1990, chemical castration “reduces the production and effects of testosterone, thus diminishing the compulsive sexual fantasy. Formerly inconsistent and commanding urges can be voluntarily controlled”, HURIWA noted.
“Chemical castration is legal in eight states of USA although not all states make the treatment mandatory. In 1996, California became the first US state to legalize it by requiring mandatory treatment for repeat sex offenders but discretionary injections for first time offenders. Florida and Texas followed suit but in the latter state, the offender must be at least 21 years of age. In Iowa, chemical castration is allowed in all cases of serious sex offences. In Louisiana, judges can sentence convicted rapists to chemical castration. The State of Alabama law passed in 2019 requires, as a condition of parole, that convicted sex offender of a child under the age of 13 undergo the treatment which will continue until a court rules otherwise.
“In Canada, the courts cannot order offenders to undergo chemical castration – they can only impose psychiatric treatment, which can include the use of anti-libido medication. In 2006, the Canadian Court of Appeal ruled it constitutional for the National Parole Board to require that recidivist sex offenders, if found to be long-term offenders, be chemically castrated as conditions of release”, HURIWA said.
HURIWA added that there was need to put in place sustainable regime of legal frameworks to confront the hydra headed monster of sexual harassment of female students and admission seekers by lecturers.
Similarly, the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, called for urgent action to address sexual harassment against students.
The first lady made the call during the exclusive screening of the BBC Africa Eye ‘Sex for Grades’ documentary, last Monday night in Lagos.
It would be recalled that Senior Lecturer, Dr Boniface Igbenegbu of the Faculty of Art, University of Lagos, Akoka, was recently caught on camera making sexual demands from a student seeking admission into the institution.
Also, Prof. Richard Akindele of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for same offence of ‘sex-for-marks’ scandal in 2018.
Aisha lamented that the issue of sexual harassment against women was not unique to universities, but has become prevalent in the society, including religious settings.
Represented by a lawyer, Mrs Aisha Rimi, Mrs Buhari condemned sexual harassment against students, saying it was unacceptable as the nation’s educational system had suffered many setbacks that had hindered its development.
“This simply has to change. It is no longer enough to sweep allegations under the carpet or force victims to withdraw their allegations, victimise or stigmatise them,” she said.
She stressed that there are laws to protect victims of sexual harassment and abuse, but such laws cannot operate except victims speak out to get justice.
The first lady advised women that their dignity and self respect should outweigh whatever challenge they face, stating her support to ensure a sexual abuse-free society for women.
She commended the BBC team for their hard work, bravery and tenacity to expose the ills facing students in the country’s tertiary institutions.
Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called for thorough investigation and appropriate sanction for lecturers indicted in the alleged “Sex-for-Grades” scandal in order to sanitise the university system.
The University of Lagos (UNILAG) Branch Chairman of ASUU, Dr Dele Ashiru, said, yesterday, in Lagos, that the union was against all forms of unethical practices, including sexual harassment.
Ashiru was reacting to a viral British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) investigative video which showed some lecturers of Universities of Lagos and Ghana sexually harassing female students.
“As a union, we are against all unethical practices among colleagues, including sexual harassment and even abuse.
“The development is very disturbing and unfortunate. We have appealed to colleagues to understand that as lecturers, we stand in ‘loco parentis’ (in the place of a parent) to these students and must not be perceived in any way of not being protective.
“We condemn this act of shame in its entirety and want the matter to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate sanction carried out on all those found culpable,” the ASUU chairman noted.
On his part, Professor of English, also in UNILAG, Chimdi Maduagwu, said there was need for a social re-orientation of the lecturers and others.
According to him, it is about social scrutiny, urging for enforcement of self discipline, especially among the academic staff.
“There must be a way to look into and touch these things and water them down.
“Some of us tend to be wielding so much powers in the positions we find ourselves that we loose control even when there is absolutely need to draw the lines.
“An average lecturer could be so powerful that he sees himself as having all the powers to fail or award grades at his whims and caprices.
“I believe that quality assurance can take adequate charge of some of these ugly trends,” he said.
In reaction to the scandal, the University of Lagos had since issued a statement, suspending one of the lecturers indicted in the saga.
The UNILAG Spokesperson, Mrs Taiwo Oloyede, said in the statement: “The University of Lagos management has suspended Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts.
“He was caught in a sting operation by the BBC titled: ‘Sex-for-Grades’. The trending video chronicled cases of sexual harassment of female students by some lecturers in some West African universities, including of Lagos.
“Management at its emergency meeting of October 7, suspended Igbeneghu from work immediately and barred him from the university academic areas while the suspension subsists unless invited by panel constituted by the institution to investigate the matter.
“In addition, the management has ordered the shutdown of the Staff Club ‘Cold Room’ mentioned in the documentary for further investigations. The so-called Cold Room is a Functions Room, that may have been abused because this is a deviation from the purpose for which it was created (meetings, seminars and events,” the statement read.
It stated that the university was embarrassed by the development, and therefore, dissociates itself totally from the acts and any other inappropriate behaviour of staff with female students and vice versa.
“As a reputable institution and one of the foremost universities in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, we are highly embarrassed by these allegations and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that this menace is checked and flushed from our institution.
“We have zero tolerance for such unwholesome behaviour and we will continue to work hard to protect the interests of all our students,” it stated.
Nigeria Ranks 6th Worst In Global Child’s Wellbeing Survey
Nigeria has been ranked among the bottom 10 countries performing poorly in terms of children’s well-being, coming 6th worst performing country in the world, according to a recent report released, yesterday by a commission convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet.
The ranking is based on factors, including child survival, health, education, nutrition, equity and income gaps.
The report titled – ‘A Future for the World’s Children?’, based its rankings on factors, including measures of child survival and well-being such as health, education, nutrition, equity and income gaps.
A report rated Nigeria 174 out of 180 countries, lagging behind Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and South Sudan.
The UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Claes Johansson, in a statement, yesterday, said that the solution to ensuring that Nigerian children have a future was to invest in them.
“This report demonstrates how far we still need to go in Nigeria to ensure children can live healthy lives in an environment where they can thrive. We know that investing in the future of our children, giving them an education and making sure they are healthy and receive the right nutrition, works to provide a better future for everyone”, he said.
But while the survey suggests that poorer countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthier lives, it has blamed wealthier countries for burdening the poor with excessive carbon emissions, a situation, it reports can lead to devastating health consequences for children, and increase the risk of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.
“More than two billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change”.
“While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally does not have to come at the cost of eroding children’s futures globally,” Johansson said.
In its call to action to protect children, the independent commission’s authors recommends that there is an urgent need to stop CO2 emissions to ensure children have a future on this planet. It also recommends that – there is need to place children and adolescents at the centre of efforts to achieve sustainable development; create new policies and investment in all sectors to work towards child health and rights; incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions; and tighten national regulation of harmful commercial marketing, supported by a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The report further added that while the poorest countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions – disproportionately from wealthier countries – threaten the future of all children. If global warming exceeds 4°C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heat waves, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.
The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.
“More than two billion people live in countries where development is hampered by humanitarian crises, conflicts, and natural disasters, problems increasingly linked with climate change,” Co-Chair of the commission and Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, said.
The Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet family of journals, Dr. Richard Horton, said: “The opportunity is great. The evidence is available. The tools are at hand. From heads-of-state to local government, from UN leaders to children themselves, this commission calls for the birth of a new era for child and adolescent health. It will take courage and commitment to deliver. It is the supreme test of our generation.
“From the climate crisis to obesity and harmful commercial marketing, children around the world have to contend with threats that were unimaginable just a few generations ago,” UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said.
“It is time for a rethink on child health, one which places children at the top of every government’s development agenda and puts their well-being above all considerations.
“This report shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing today’s children and youth: failing to protect their health, failing to protect their rights, and failing to protect their planet”.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.”
However, Nigeria may not be alone in the negligence of its children as the report reveals that no single country in the world adequately protects the health, environment and the future of its young.
According to experts, these revelations indicate that the health and future of children worldwide was under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing as well as violence emanating from insurgency.
Expectedly, Nigeria is among this two billion under threat as more than half of its children bear the brunt of insurgency, terrorism and crime.
To ensure children are at the centre of efforts to achieve sustainable development, world bodies like the WHO and UNICEF say decision-makers must invest in protecting the rights of children.
Rivers Records Fresh Case Of Lassa Fever
The Rivers State Ministry of Health says a fresh case of Lassa fever has been recorded in Rivers State, according to the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Chinwe Atata.
This fresh case brings to four the number of persons that have tested positive to Lassa fever, though the three persons who tested positive to Lassa fever previously were confirmed dead by the ministry.
Atata while confirming the new case to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said the victim, a driver has been transferred to Abuja for further treatment.
According to her, “After the first confirmed case of three that died, this new case is one.
“The person is in Abuja, he is a driver. But because he lives in Port Harcourt, that is why the case is for us.
“He is undergoing treatment in Abuja now,” Atata stated.
She also said some persons who were placed under surveillance in the state are now free after results of test that was carried out shows that they were negative to Lassa fever.
“There is no isolated case now. Most of them were on surveillance. They are out of surveillance as of now, and they are okay,” Atata stated.
The Tide recalls that about 57 persons were placed under surveillance by the ministry on suspicion of Lassa fever, but they have all been freed, according to the permanent secretary.
Court Orders Release Of Dasuki’s International Passport
Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of an FCT High Court Maitama, yesterday, ordered for the release of the international passport of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Baba-Yusuf gave the order, following an application by Ahmed Raji, SAN, Dasuki‘s counsel, praying for the release of the passport dated and filed on February 11.
Raji had sought for the release of the passport to enable Dasuki to renew the expired passport, which has been in the custody of the court for the past four year.
Arguing the application, Raji withdrew the second relief sought in the application.
According to him, the relief seeking the release of the passport was not opposed by the prosecution innocuous application as the prosecution did not file any counter application.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe, did not object to the relief sought by Dasuki.
Meanwhile, the judge adjourned until March 13 for hearing of the substantive case.
Dasuki is being tried alongside other defendants before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf by EFCC since 2015 on alleged misappropriation of fund made for arms.
He is being tried alongside former Minister of State for Finance, Amb Bashir Yuguda; (1st defendant), former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir and his company, Dalhatu Investment Limited.
In the charge, with number FCT/HC/CR/42/2015, he was charged alongside a former minister of state for finance, Amb Bashir Yuguda; a former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa, his son, Sagir and his company, Dalhatu Investment Limited.
They are facing a 25-count charge bordering on alleged criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of public fund to the tune N19.4billion.
Similarly, Baba-Yusuf adjourned until April 9 for hearing of the sister case.
EFCC applied to withdraw their two applications filed on October, 2019 and December 20, 2019 and the applications were struck out.
The sister case is numbered FCT/HC/CR/43/2015, Dasuki is facing trial alongside a former General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Babakusa, and two firms: Acacia Holdings Limited and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited.
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