ASUU to Senate: Sexual harassment bill is devised to discredit lecturers

The National President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), Biodun Ogunyemi has declared the famous ‘Sexual Harassment Bill’ sponsored by the Deputy Senate President of the 9th National Assembly, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege as unfavorable to ‘Education Providers’ (Lecturers). According to him, the bill is targeted at discrediting Nigerian lecturers, and therefore making them vulnerable to the malicious activities of some corrupt students who may want to cease such opportunity to tarnish the image of lecturers. The ASUU President said this on Monday at a public hearing on Sexual Harassment on Students in Tertiary Institutions (Prohibition) Bill, 2019, held at the Senate Conference Hall in the National Assembly Complex. Professor Biodun expressed that the Senate needed to recognize the autonomy of the university, to review the contents of the bill as it pertains to lecturers. He explained that there were already existing laws in the tertiary institutions that covers such cases hence there was no need to push for the establishment of the law when the existing ones could just be reviewed. Amidst his submission, other stakeholders, CSOs & MDAs who were present at the hearing, upheld and supported the bill, its enlisted offenses and punishments for offenders. Nevertheless, some correctional submissions were proffered by the Secretary General of Women’s Right Advancement & Protection Alternative, Hajiya Saudatu Mohdi, which included expanding the scope of the bill to cover other institutions and sectors in the country where such crimes are committed. She equally requested the Senate to demand annual reports on sexual harassments from all tertiary institutions. Also, DG of Nigerian Law Reform Commission, Professor Jumai Audi in the spirit of correctional amendment of some items in the bill, submitted that the appearance of the word ‘Felony’ in some clauses of the bill should be erased and replaced with ‘Offenses’ as the use of felony was not required in such context. However, Chairman of the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Michael, assured the audience of total inclusion of all opinions and submissions by all stakeholders and members of the public who spoke at the hearing in the bill.

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