Sexual crimes as a social vice is as old as man. This is the reason we have various laws aimed at curbing these crimes. But the pertinent question that is begging for an answer is, how well do we match these legislation up with enforcement, especially in developing countries within Africa? What efforts do we put in making sure that the excesses of man is not left unchecked.
We keep hearing and reading stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. But do we give these issues the attention they require? Often, the victims of sexual offences take the blame for the fate that befell them. One gets to hear statements like “She must have dressed indecently!”; “What was she doing on the road at that ungodly hour of the night?”
Distasteful words that you hear and wonder the evil that has suddenly possessed humanity. The society aide the perpetrators of these crimes with excuses. Excuses that encourage others to also toe the same path.
However, when it happens to a relative – a sister, daughter, cousin or even one’s mother, then, we feel the heat. When we send our wards to school and they get harassed, assaulted or even raped by perverts and sexual predators in the system, our voices will be heard. But should we be so selfishly reactive in everything?
On Monday, BBC’s African Eye released a video in which a senior lecturer of the University of Lagos is seen sexually harassing a BBC undercover journalist, Kiki Mordi who posed as a 17 year-old teenager seeking admission in the institution. The randy lecturer was identified as Dr. Boniface Egbeneghu of the department of French, who was a former sub-dean of the Faculty of Arts of the same institution and also a local pastor with Four Square Church in Lagos.
In the video which has gone viral since its release, the don could be seen, casually flirting with the supposed admission-seeker in a way that suggests a very regular adventure. In the video, he is also seen confiding in the young admission-seeker that sexual relations between lecturers and female students in the institution are very common occurrences hence, not one that should wow anybody.
He could be seen in the video stretching out comfortably on his office chair while negotiating sex with the BBC undercover journalist who played along all the while, in a manner that paints a clear picture of a completely decayed system.
But the story of Dr Egbeneghu is just a tip of an iceberg. It is just one out of many such stories that happen in our higher institutions of learning. Recall that about a year ago, it was a certain Professor Akindele from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife that was recorded telling a female student that she must have sex with him on 5 different occasions before she could scale through his course.
The story made the headlines of many media platforms . He was suspended by the University Senate and was subsequently prosecuted. These despicable acts happen on the daily in our tertiary institutions but victims do not speak out for obvious reasons. With fellow lecturers and the university management always ready to defend and cover up accused colleagues while seeking for pieces of evidence corroborating the accusation from the victims before their claims could be taken seriously.
This frustrates most victims and leave them with the fear of being further victimized academically. This evil is so rife in our universities that most female students avoid having a one-on-one contact with their male lecturers.
The Nigerian Ministry of Education, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the National University Commission (NUC) must act now! A State of Emergency should be declared in our tertiary institutions as regards this menace, let sanity be restored in the system. All hands must be on deck to curb this growing evil.
Finally, let the culprit be made to face the full wrath of the law. It is reported that Dr Boniface Egbeneghu has been suspended by both the University and the church where he pastors. But this is not enough. He should be charged to court by the relevant authorities.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.