Two lecturers from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) have placed their integrity and livelihood in peril after featuring in a sexual harassment documentary produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
The BBC documentary had exposed four lecturers – two from UNILAG, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, and Dr. Samuel Oladipo of the Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences as well as two others from the University of Ghana, Legon, for allegedly sexually harassing undercover reporters, who posed as students in need of help. The University of Lagos teachers had been suspended, barred from the school campus and ordered to face a probe panel set up by the institution.
These schoolteachers, who should have held themselves to the utmost standard of behaviour betrayed their calling. Sexual predatory lifestyle fogged their reasoning. They never reckoned their indiscretion could boomerang.
The gaffe is worse for Dr. Igbeneghu, who is a pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church. He was immediately disowned and suspended by the church the scandal broke.
Dr. Igbeneghu had abused his clerical status, praying with his victim in the documentary and going ahead to act and talk in a reprehensible manner.
He appeared to have failed to learn from the fate that befell another pastor and senior lecturer of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Richard Akindele, who was sentenced to two years imprisonment in December last year for demanding sex to pass one of his female students.
Akindele was dismissed from service by the university after the victim released a video recording of her ordeal, which went viral in the social media. The professor had pleaded guilty after being arraigned for the offence. Regardless, the trial judge, Justice Maureen Onyetenu, had ruled that Akindele should be used as a scapegoat to deter lecturers of higher institutions in the habit of sexually assaulting their female students.
The latest incident has shown that those who are neck-deep in the act are undeterred and the aberration, plaguing institutions of higher learning in the country and in many other countries, is still untamed.
Sexual abuse is evil and as long as the perpetrators of the criminal behaviour persist, justice must be served and severe punishment meted out to the culprits to restore sanity.
In the past, many students had suffered the emotional trauma of being made to acquiesce to sexual demands of pervert lecturers. But tech devices are now being deployed to catch unrepenting sex predators. We urge the female students and also their male counterparts to be bold to expose lecturers, who use their positions of authority to victimise them and make schooling harrowing.
There are arguments about rising indecency in society. Cases of female students, who seduce lecturers and deliberately offer themselves to be sexually abused have been cited. However, such tendencies hold no excuse for harassment of female students. Lecturers must resist temptation and live above board at all times.
To win the war against sexual abuse, school authorities must develop a code of behaviour to protect their students, lecturers and other staff members from sexual abuse and other anti-social behaviours.
Where such policies already exist, they must be subjected to regular appraisal.
Channels of reporting sexual harassment and other conducts, which show lecturers are breaching the trust and position as protectors of their students must be made available and accessible.
With the pervasiveness of the problem of sexual harassment, it is easy to overlook the fact that there are many decent, disciplined and hardworking lecturers in our tertiary institutions. It will be unjust to label all as predators. We urge the upright ones not just to maintain their integrity, but also lead the crusade in collaboration with the authorities to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s game over for randy teachers.