A Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at the University of Ilorin, Wahab Olasupo Egbewole, has described the phenomenon of Sex-for-Mark in the nation’s institutions of higher learning as a disgrace not only to such institutions but also to humanity.
Prof. Egbewole, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), stated this while presenting a paper, titled “Ethical Issues Arising from the Sexual Harassment Bill (SHB) and Career Vulnerability among Lecturers in Nigerian Universities” at a sensitisation workshop organised by the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ilorin.
The don urged academics to be more meticulous, circumspect and professional in their relationships with their students, most especially those of the opposite sex to avoid finding themselves in ugly situations.
While justifying the efforts to curtail sexual indecency, through the Bill, Prof. Egbewole, who is also a former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, insisted that sexual harassment has the tendency of damaging the society and its essence and must therefore be fought and exterminated.
Prof. Egbewole said that the Sexual Harassment Bill, which is currently attracting the attention of the House of Representatives after being passed by the Senate, needed to be tinkered with in view of some conspicuous loopholes.
He stressed the need for “something more fundamental” to be injected into the proposed law in order to prevent the possibility of false allegations, which, if not checked, would turn lecturers to endangered species in the ivory tower as any unscrupulous female student may find it easy to level allegations against a given teacher for any reason.
Prof. Egbewole opined that the Bill appears not to take into cognisance the basic rules of punishment such as the need for reformation, asking that since armed robbers have been treated to capital punishment, has the punishment stopped the crime?
While noting that the Bill, when assented to by the President, would not only push lecturers to precarious situations but also erode the university autonomy, the distinguished academic urged the nation’s universities to put machineries in place that would make commission of crimes difficult.
He added that there must be a sexual harassment policy, which would spell out in clear terms the rules of engagement between lecturers and students.
Prof. Egbewole also called for more consciousness on the part of the society to ensure that the educational institutions are not polluted by enacting a more pragmatic measure by way of ethical reorientation and improvement of social values.
Responding to a question, Prof. Egbewole said that the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has a lot of work to do to prevent the realisation of the clear and present danger, which the Bill would constitute to lecturers when passed.
He added that the appearance put up by the National President of Union at the Senate when the Bill was being processed at the Upper Legislative House was not good enough.
He explained that he had expected the body to put together a Committee of professionals who will put serious and verifiable argument before the legislators and the court of public opinion for stakeholders to know that the Bill when it becomes law would create more problems than those it is targeted at reducing or exterminating.
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