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.
Senate Bars Media As MDAs Defend Budgets
The Senate, yesterday, defended its committees’ decision to shut out the media from covering the budget defence session it is currently holding with the ministries, agencies and departments of the Federal Government.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, justified the action of his colleagues during an interactive session with journalists.
The Senate panels had last Wednesday, started the process of scrutinising details of the 2020 budgets of the MDAs, with most of the sessions held behind closed doors, contrary to the usual practice.
Adeyeye said the Senate would not deny journalists the necessary information the public needed to know about the budgets of the MDAs.
He said the committees’ decision to shut out the media was actually to avoid unnecessary distractions.
He explained that the various committees would still brief the journalists after the budget defence sessions.
He said, “On secret meetings with MDAs, I have said that we shall liaise with relevant committees of the Senate to make sure that they allow proper coverage of their activities.
“I just finished a meeting of another committee on budget defence and honestly we held that meeting but the venue couldn’t accommodate all of us, even a lot of the staff have nowhere to seat.
“It isn’t that they want to conduct budget defence in secrecy but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratify them, adjusting them don’t necessarily have to be open to the media.
“What I am saying is that there is no secrecy but they need to do serious work.
“If I want to write a paper now, I want to do serious intellectual work; will I be doing it in the full glare of camera? No!
“I want us to believe that it is a serious matter. We want to discuss the issues seriously, genuinely, factually.
“The press can be called in but sometimes the Committee needs their privacies to do their jobs.
“They can at the end of the day call the press to say, “This is what we have done.” If they can do their job without the searchlight of the cameras, they can get the job done.
“This is what they have done, it isn’t secrecy. Do you want the committees to do everything in your presence? I don’t think it is proper.
“Were you there when the Executive was preparing the budget, but the president came here to present it.
“The budget defence can be done behind closed door but then whatever has be done, the best thing is to release it to the public and I think that’s if fair enough.”
He assured the media that his committee would liaise with the other Senate committees to make their findings available to the public.
Adeyeye said, “There is nothing secret about this thing, they are looking at it item by item they couldn’t have released it to the press.
“I am going to pass information to chairmen of the various committees to do the same on their report.
Wike Tasks Advisory Council On Safer Roads
To reduce the menace of road crashes across Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike has inaugurated the Rivers State Road Safety Advisory Council (RSRSAC) to drive the implementation of the Nigerian Road Safety Strategy in the state.
Wike said the inauguration of the advisory council was apt, having recently sworn in the Rivers State Road Maintenance Agency to ensure safe and drive-able roads for the good people of the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, said, the council was to advise the state government and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on measures to improve road safety management, safer vehicles, safe road users, post-crash care, amongst others, according to the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy.
He advised members of the council, who are to serve as technical working group, to ensure best practices by swinging into massive awareness campaign on road safety to reduce carnage on roads, having been drawn from different ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
In his remarks, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr David Mendie, said the advisory council was necessary to join synergy with the rest of the federation in ensuring safety of road users and proper emergency management.
The state advisory council is chaired by the Secretary to the State Government while the alternate chairman is the Sector Commander of FRSC.
Other members include representatives drawn from ministries of transport, health, justice, information and communications, education, finance, the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Why FG Is Borrowing Fresh $3bn From World Bank -Minister
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has said the $3billion loan being sought by the Federal Government from the World Bank would be deployed for reforms in the power sector.
She said this during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings holding in Washington DC, United States.
Ahmed, who is leading the Federal Government’s delegation to the meeting, said she would be holding further discussions with the management of the Bank to present how the fund would be disbursed for the project.
She said based on the plan of the Federal Government for the power sector, the loan would be used for the development of transmission and distribution networks to enhance the delivery of electricity.
Ahmed also said the loan would be used in addressing some of the challenges that the country is currently facing in the power sector.
She said, “There is a proposed $2.5billion to $3billion facility for the power sector development programme in Nigeria and this will include development of the transmission networks and the distribution networks as well as removing the challenges that we currently have now in the electricity sector.
“We are going to have a full meeting to discuss the power sector recovery programme and back home we have been working a great deal with the World Bank to design how this programme will be implemented.
“So, we have an opportunity now to have a direct meeting with the leadership of the bank and to tell them the plan we have and how much we need from one to five years.”
The finance minister explained that the government would be pushing for the disbursement of the $3billion facility in two tranches of $1.5billion each.
When asked to comment on concerns being raised by the IMF about Nigeria’s debt which stands at N25.7trillion the finance minister insists that Nigeria does not have a debt problem.
She said what the government needed to do is to increase its revenue-generating capacity in order to boost the revenue to about 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
She said with Nigeria’s current revenue to GDP ratio standing at just 19 per cent, it’s underperformance is significantly straining the government’s ability to service its debt obligation.
The minister said, “Nigeria does not have a debt problem. What we have is a revenue problem.
“Our revenue to GDP is still one of the lowest among countries that are comparable to us. It’s about 19 per cent of GDP and what the World Bank and IMF recommended is about 50 per cent of GDP for countries that are our size. We are not there yet. What we have is a revenue problem.
“The underperformance of our revenue is causing a significant strain in our ability to service debt and to service government day-to-day recurrent expenditure and that is why all the work we are doing at the ministry of finance is concentrating on driving the increase in revenue.”
When asked why the Federal Government decided to increase the revenue projection in the 2020 budget to N8.9trillion at a time when government revenue performance is less than 60 per cent, she said a lot of measures are being put in place to correct the anomaly.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is considering introducing excise duties on carbonated drinks, according to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
Ahmed gave the indication in an interview with newsmen, yesterday, on the sidelines of the ongoing World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.
She said the idea was one of other areas, besides the proposed increase in VAT, that the government was looking at to broaden its revenue base.
The minister explained that the government was working hard to ensure efficiency in existing revenue streams while searching for new ones.
She said the government would consult with all stakeholders on the proposal in line with standard policy formulation process.
“Any tax that you are introducing will involve a lot of consultations and also amendments of some laws or introduction of new regulations,” she said.
Carbonated drinks include soft drink brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta, while excise duty is a tax levied on locally produced goods.
Ahmed said her ministry was working with all the agencies to ensure that collaboration was strengthened in revenue generation.
“The government is trying to ensure that the work of the agencies is complementing each other as opposed to the past where everybody is working in silos.
“Efforts are ongoing to improve the monitoring performance of the revenue generating agencies, especially government-owned enterprises.
“We have now in place rigorous monthly reconciliation of revenues and that is ensuring that the leakages are minimised.
“There is several cost cutting measures in the SRGI and a number of cost cutting measures initiatives such as innovation and automation as well as capacity building of our people,” she said.
The minister reiterated government’s resolve to sanction revenue generating agencies that fail to meet their targets.
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