By Gloria Ibesi
Last Monday, some Students of one of Nigerian Federal Universities, located in the South South Region of the country, the University of Calabar, rose in protest against the immoral and unscrupulous act of Sexual Harassment which the students pass through in the hands of their lecturers.
The Students from the Law Faculty of the University, went round in a peaceful protest, as recorded and reported by the News and in social media platforms, bearing placards with different inscriptions portraying their grievances.
During the peaceful demonstration, led by the Law Student Association, LAWSAN, President, Comrade Benedict Otu, one of the lecturers of the faculty, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, was specifically singled out as a central figure in the alleged malfeasance. Although as expected, the lecturer who is also the Dean of the Faculty, denied all accusations leveled against him by the students claiming it was an act of sabotage by people envying his position and seeking to ‘pull him down’ in the school.
The University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Florence Obi, while addressing the situation, assured the demonstrators that the case would be investigated, even as she enjoined them to provide evidence as she stated: ‘When you are talking about sexual harassment, you need more than accusation.’
Inquiring more on the incident, our reporter gathered from a source who is a student of the said school that such acts of sexual harassments also extends to other departments in the university, where Heads of Department, promise students a second class upper honours as long as they yield to and fulfill the their sexual fantasies. She further stated that their victims who are mostly ignorant freshers and students who are not blessed with academic intellect, are promised “A”s as long as they warm the lecturers’ beds.
The UNICAL undergraduate whose name wasn’t revealed disclosed some stories flying around Campus as regards the incident before and after the protest. Her words: ‘according to what I heard, the said Dean manipulates admission lists, and abused certain students before helping them secure admission to study Law. If UNICAL offers you admission into a department you don’t like, and you desire to study law, when you meet the Dean of the Faculty of Law, you will have to pay him in both cash and kind for him to transfer you to his faculty.
‘Again, when you visit him in his office for academic purposes, he grabs you without your approval and once he senses any iota of negative energy from you, he will threaten you with your academics and your survival in the Law Faculty. He promises students to make their stay in the faculty an easy one as long as they satisfy his sexual needs.’
‘These does not only happen in the Law Faculty, some other lecturers will even promise to talk to their fellow lecturers on the victim’s behalf as long as they do their bidding. Most lecturers will not even attend classes or give out lecture materials till a day before their scheduled exams, and in this situation, they give everyone who did not pay either in cash or in kind an “F” regardless of what they wrote. Should I even talk about the professors, they will tell you that they are few professors in UNICAL and no one will ever question their conduct. ‘she lamented.
Sexual harassment of students by their lecturers has been long in existence and has been a destructive force against Nigerian students as well as the Nigerian Educational System. As it is currently, rarely does anyone, including the educational stakeholders, the school authorities and students, who are the victims, speak about it as it now appears to be one of the prerequisite of becoming a graduate.
The man in question, Prof. Ndifon has been previously accused of raping his 20 year old student, some time ago and reinstatement and promotion after the incident are being questioned.
The university authorities and those at the helm of affairs can do more than just twiddling thumbs, waiting for students to provide evidence before they consider taking up cases of this sort. If they really mean to get rid of these dubious and undeserving lecturers from our educational system, there are thousand and one ways to investigate these cases and find out the truth.
Students on their part will definitely have many stories to tell as well as many proofs to present only if they are assured that they will be used to fish out the perverted lecturers and have them brought to book and not use them against the students.
With many unreported cases occurring from time to time, anyone who cares, knows that the students claims which had been labelled a mere assertion by the UNICAL school authority is far from being a fabrication or false impression ‘masterminded by detractors to tarnish the image of a successful lecturer’.
Sexual harassment in higher institutions is on the increase not because the higher ups are unaware of the students plight but corruption makes it difficult for such grave offences to be treated as such, if not overlooked. More often than not, students lack evidence or are scared of presenting such evidence due to fear of unjust aftermaths.
While the state and private owned institutions are not left out in this long-lived vice, there exist a sort of gang up among the vicious lectures against students who are willing to report their unlawfulness which daunt students from ever trying to speak up. This leaves student with no option than endure such deplorable treatment till graduation
Imagine a teenager or vicenarian who got into the university a virgin being asked to grace a lecturer’s bed in order to pass a course or obtain one pathetic favour or the other. Think of a situation when a student is asked to visit hotels with lecturers so that she would score well in courses which she might have studied hard and written well to pass or perhaps, to pass the ones she could not or does not deserve to pass.
The students who failed a course should be pressurized to work harder in order not to fail again while re-sitting it and not given an option of sex with a lecturer to succeed in school. It is so shameful that our educational stakeholders and the government will keep mute while all these are going on.
The students of UNICAL who courageously took to the streets to voice their outrages have been shown great level of solidarity by both students across the country and concerned members of the public as even the authorities where students ought to take solace and report these acts of sexual assaults cannot be trusted. Most of them have one or two reasons to get each other’s back, hence the reason they rather decide to deal with the complainants or victims to deter the other students from voicing out.
Many applaud their venturesome act and others see it as a quicker and effective way of curbing this corrupt activities of lecturers. Even when the responsible authorities refuse to take proper actions, the faces and names of the malfeasant lecturers circulate the internet with the world learning about their unethical activities.
Few words to a lecturer who may come across this piece: Think of the manner of legacy you leave for your generations to come, what will posterity hear about you? Will people who passed through your tutelage be glad to say: ‘this was my lecturer, to pass his course, I worked so hard, read so many books, stayed up so many nights and it got me to where I am today or will they say: this wicked man forced me to sleep with him so I could graduate with my mates. The evil man failed me in an exam I worked very hard to write.
If only we think properly of our actions.