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ASUU condemns ‘Sex for Grades’, demands thorough investigation, sanction for offenders

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ASUU denies suspending ongoing strike, urges public to help, make education better

…As Buhari calls for urgent action to address sexual harassment against students***

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.

ASUU University of Lagos (UNILAG) Branch Chairman, Dr Dele Ashiru, told the newsmen on Tuesday 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 told NAN.

On his part, Chimdi Maduagwu, Professor of English, also in UNILAG, 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 weilding 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.

Meanwhile the university of Lagos had since issued a statement, suspending one of the lecturers indicted in the saga.

Also read:  Varsity suspends ASUU chair for alleged sexual assault

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 Oct. 7, suspended Dr 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.

In the meantime, First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has called for urgent action to address sexual harassment against students.

Buhari made the call during the exclusive screening of the BBC Africa Eye ‘Sex for Grades’ documentary on Monday night in Lagos.

The First Lady lamented that the issue of sexual harassment against women was not unique to universities, but has become prevalent in the society, including religious settings.

Buhari represented by Mrs Aisha Rimi, a lawyer, 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.

Buhari 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.

Also, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, Wife of Ekiti Governor, said that it was time to speak up, speak out and stand by victims of sexual abuse, saying the culture of silence must end.

According to her, universities should have clear sexual and violence policies that will protect students and the sanctity of the educational system.

Fayemi called for a sexual offence register that would contain list of indicted lecturers, thus preventing them from moving to another university if sacked from one, to commit similar atrocity in another institution.

She stressed the need to be accountable for the well being and care of the young ones, ensure justice for survivor of sexual abuse and the political will to prosecute and punish offenders.

Fayemi urged the society to desist from shaming survivors of sexual abuse, rather name, shame and punish offenders to serve as deterrents to others.

Mrs Toun Sonaiya, Chief Executive Officer, WFM Radio, said that everyone should collectively amplify their voices against issues of sexual harassment and abuse against girls and women.

She advocated for a safe environment that would enable women share their experiences without fear, and ensure diligent investigation and prosecution of offenders of such allegations.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that “Sex for Grades” is a 53 minutes documentary that exposes alleged sexual harassment against students by lecturers in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and University of Ghana, Legon.

The documentary features the personal story of Kiki Mordi, an investigative journalist with WFM Radio, who worked with the BBC Africa Eye team to expose the ills in the Universities, based on her personal experience of sexual harassment by lecturers.

During the year long investigation, journalists posing as students made secret recordings of male academics who harass and abuse young women.

The investigation was conducted by BBC Africa Eye to expose the problem of sex for grades faced by students in many higher institutions.

 

 

 

Education

Lion Kills OAU Zoo Attendant 

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…Lion killed instantly 

Mr Olawuyi Olarewaju, a veterinary technologist with Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun,  has been killed by a Lion.

It was learnt that Olarewaju, who had been in charge of the OAU Zoological Garden for over a decade, was attacked by a nine -year-old male lion on Monday.

He was said to have been attacked while feeding the lion at the zoological garden of the university.

Confirming the incident, Mr Biodun Olarewaju, the OAU Public Relations Officer, said the management of the university had been thrown into mourning following the incident.

Olarewaju, in a statement in Ile-Ife, said that other members of staff of the university, who were at the scene of the incident did everything within their powers to rescue the deceased but the wild cat had already caused severe fatalities.

He said that saddened by the tragic event, the aggressive lion had been euthanized.

“On hearing the sad news, the management team, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adebayo Bamire, abruptly ended an on-going meeting for an on-the-spot assessment.

“The vice chancellor was informed on arrival by the Acting Director of the University Health and Medical Centre, Dr Tirimisiyu Olatunji, that all first aid and medical efforts to save the life of the victim failed.

“The deceased has been taking care of the lions since they were born on campus about nine years ago but tragically, the male lion killed the man who had been feeding them.

“The university management has sent a delegation to the widow and children of the deceased,    imploring them to take solace in God who gives life and also has the power to take life,” he said.

Olarewaju said that the management had ordered a comprehensive investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident.

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Education

ASUU Says 46 Members Lost Their Lives To Economic Hardship

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abuja zone, has disclosed the death of some of its members due to economic hardship alongside poor remuneration of academics and unfavourable working conditions.

The 1st zonal coordinator, ASUU, Abuja zone, Salahu Muhammed made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Muhammad said no fewer than 46 academics lost their lives in universities under the Abuja zone.

They are the University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State University, Nasarawa, and the Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai.

He said that the union recently lost an eminent Professor of Fisheries, Johnson Oyero, of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, due to inability to afford quality medical facilities.

“In the last decade, more Nigerian academics are leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures, thereby overworking the patriotic ones that remain in the system whose level of patriotism is dwindling daily due to poor remuneration and working conditions.

“It is also worthy of note that the union has lost several members during the period under review due to herculean working conditions, psychological and emotional stress, and diseases related to these conditions.

“For instance, universities in the Abuja zone have lost 46 members,” Muhammed said.

He decried the payment to their members, of amputated two-month salaries by the Federal Government out of the seven-and-a-half month withheld salaries.

Also, the 2nd ASUU Abuja Zonal Coordinator, Mr Salahu Lawal, said the salaries were withheld when the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy on members of the union that embarked on a strike that lasted eight months in 2022.

Lawal said despite the order by President Tinubu for the release and payment of their withheld salaries, some members have reportedly received an amputated two-month salary of the seven-and-a-half-month withheld salaries, while many were yet to get anything.

“This is far below the expectation of the union and further weakens the morale of our members and the union’s trust in government promises.

“We use this medium to call on all that are involved in this inglorious act to do the needful with regards to lecturers’ withheld salaries as there is nothing more to prove,” he said.

Lawal also lamented the inability of the government to implement the exemption of Federal Universities from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as approved by the federal Executive Council in December 2023.

‘’In December 2023, the Minister of Education after a FEC meeting told the world that tertiary institutions are now exempted from the IPPIS an imposition on federal universities by the immediate past Buhari-led government.

“It is worrisome that two months after that pronouncement, the directive has not been implemented rather there was a funny narration on the salaries paid in January stating ‘’New IPPIS’’.

“This is lack of political will to carry out a directive from the president or even FEC by some elements who are beneficiaries of the dubious payment platform,’’ Lawal stated.

He further called on the Federal Government to sign and implement the Professor Nimi Briggs committee renegotiation agreement.

The ASUU Zonal Coordinator called for the immediate implementation of salary awards of 25 percent and 35 percent and payment of its arrears from January 2023 to date

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SIFAX Chairman, Afolabi Agrees To Deliver LAUTECH Convocation Lecture In April

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…Following the University’s Special Visit and Invitation

The Chairman of SIFAX Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi has agreed to deliver the Convocation lecture at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology LAUTECH, Ogbomosho, come April 2024.

This was a sequel to an invitation by the management of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho led by its Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Rasak Olatunde Rom Kalilu, following a courtesy visit to the revered SIFAX Group Chairman, recently. 

*L-R: Professor Temisan Ebijuwa, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology; Chike Ogeah, Managing Director, Mac-Folly Hospitality, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group owners of Lagos Marriott Hotel; Professor Rasak Olatunde Kalilu, Acting Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho; Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group and Wunmi Eniola-Jegede, Executive Director, Business Development and Strategic Planning during the formal visit of the LAUTECH management team to invite Afolabi to give the University’s convocation lecture in April 2024 held at the Lagos Marriott Hotel, Ikeja.

The SIFAX Group Chairman, in the course of the visit, was adequately briefed on happenings in the University.

ALSO READ: SIFAX Chairman Lauds Gerar University On Infrastructure, Donates Bus

The LAUTECH has been at the forefront of Nigerian universities actively promoting transportation logistics and maritime studies.

*R-L: Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group; Professor Rasak Olatunde Kalilu, Acting Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho; Professor Temisan Ebijuwa, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and another staff of the university during the formal visit of the LAUTECH management team to invite Afolabi to give the University’s convocation lecture in April 2024 held at the Lagos Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, 

Consequently, the Maritime First learnt that the Convocation lecture would provide a unique opportunity for the renowned business mogul, not only to further expose the lucky audience, to the unfolding opportunities in the various industries where he presently towers like a colossus; but also to impact them with the tools and motivation needed for a successful exploration of the nation’s Blue Economy.

ALSO READ: SIFAX: Ajayi Crowther University Honours Taiwo Afolabi With a Doctorate Degree

* L-R: Professor Rasak Olatunde Kalilu, Acting Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho and Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, Chairman, SIFAX Group in a discussion during the formal visit of the LAUTECH management team to invite Afolabi to give the University’s convocation lecture in April 2024 held at the Lagos Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, today.

 The University’s next convocation is scheduled for April 2024.

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