Despite punitive measures being taken by the management of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, many students are battling to overcome the trauma of sexual harassment and abuse by their lecturers. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look.
Asabe (not real name) was excited to secure admission into the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. She has however never envisaged that her life would be ruined while in the course of pursuing knowledge. To her chagrin, one of the people responsible for training her in character and learning, forcibly had carnal knowledge of her, in his office.
An inside source in the university confided in Daily Trust Saturday that the incident took place in the Faculty of Education: “The security unit of the university handled the case before it was taken over by the police. Every one of us was disturbed when it was discovered that the man was both HIV and hepatitis positive.”
It was learnt that the alleged victim is a 100-level student.
The source added: “When such incidents happen, we subject both the victim and the suspect to various tests. It was after the tests that this man was found to be both HIV and hepatitis positive. This aggravated the case, where the police completely took over the prosecution. We are all not happy, because this is cruel, for somebody who knows that he is carrying serious diseases, to rape an innocent girl.”
The case of Asabe is presently being handled by the police in Kaduna. Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the father of the girl is close to top government officials, which is why the case is receiving prompt attention.
Investigations by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that many lecturers – and even students – who were caught over sexual harassment were dismissed by the university, with some even prosecuted. However, the disturbing trend is yet to subside.
A recent case involved a lecturer in one of the departments of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The lecturer, according to findings, has been failing one of his female students in a 300-level course he teaches. A Security Unit source said: “He plainly told the girl she can’t pass the course without submitting herself to him. Left with no option, she came here to the Security Unit and reported. We set a trap for him by asking the girl to play along. He went and booked a hotel room, and we arrested him while he was attempting to have sex with the girl.
“We have learnt a lot of lessons, after one of the professors sacked over sexual harassment was reinstated by the Supreme Court. We now make sure that we get both audio and video evidence.
The university is doing its best in ensuring that all those arrested are punished appropriately in accordance to the statue of the institution and the laws of the country. This is why the cases are reducing drastically.”
However, findings showed that there are many cases of sexual harassment now under investigation in ABU. There is one in the Faculty of Agriculture where a lecturer is accused of raping his student. Two cases are now ongoing in the Faculty of Social Sciences, one involving a professor. Again, in the same faculty there is a case of sexual harassment where a lecturer is accused of sexually assaulting one of his male students.
Another case is that of a professor in the Faculty of Education, who was accused of sexually harassing a lady who was his student few years back. The professor in question was said to have had sexual advances on the student, who is married, and the lady alerted her husband where he was tricked and arrested at a hotel room in Kano. He was alleged to have invited the student for sex in the hotel room.
However, after receiving his sack letter from the management, the professor went to court to challenge the termination of his appointment.
“The Supreme Court ordered for his reinstatement. They argued in court that the lady was his supervisee therefore she was at his hotel room to submit the Chapter Three of her project for his vetting. Of course, the court confirmed that the lady was indeed his supervisee by the records available at the university. You know, the court would work on evidence, and he was acquitted. This is why, as I said earlier, the security unit of the university deploys other strategies. We use evidence that even in a court of law, these people would not escape justice.”
But Chief Security Officer of ABU, Colonel Tukur Jibril (rtd), declined to comment saying that “there is no need to publicise these issues since the university is effectively dealing with them.”
However, the head of ABU’s Public Affairs Unit, Dr. Sama’ila Shehu, said in a large environment like that of ABU’s, sexual harassment and other issues are bound to happen. But, according to him, the most important issue to consider are the proactive measures being put in place by the relevant authorities to curtail the trend and punish anyone caught.
He said: “What I want to say here is to call on parents to sensitise their wards to report any case of sexual advances. In this age of technology, there are many ways that a girl can generate her evidences. With those evidences, there are units responsible for handling such cases. The security and SERVICOM units are there to serve our students and the general university community.”
Shehu also said: “We, as parents, are taking solace in the fact that the university management is up-and-doing in taking decisive action on anyone involved in such acts. However, while the university is trying its best to ensure that our children get the best protection, parents are to also play their part, which is giving proper enlightenment to their children.”