The Consumer Protection Council, CPC, has called on authorities of universities and other tertiary educational institutions in the country to adopt secure whistle-blowing policy as a way of checkmating excesses of randy lecturers and students who are disposed to sex-for-marks, stating that by establishing effective redress mechanisms, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU and other institutions can commit to eradicating sexual harassment.
He said the consumers of educational services must be protected from pervasive tendencies which may come from the service providers and vice versa.
Director General of the Council, Babatunde Irukera who made the call while commending the authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) for the steps taken to verify the allegation of sex-for-marks that finally led to the disgraceful disengagement of a university professor, Richard Akindele, said it is necessary to put in place rules that safeguard students and their tutors from mutual abuse in the course of educational engagement.
The Council re-emphasized the need for educational institutions to assiduously address sexual harassment and other ancillary conduct in order to promote or restore institutional reputation, and ensure that students, being consumers of educational services, can pursue scholarship on campuses that provide safe and liberal environments where the relationship between faculty and students leads to robust and confident knowledge sharing.
While recalling that in April this year, the Council condemned “what appeared to be credible allegation of sexual harassment of a student by a member of faculty at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU),” also commended the prompt action of the management of the university in dissociating the institution from inappropriate conduct, and its commitment to a timely and fair investigation, adding that the Council also encouraged the institution to ensure that the investigation was broad and transparent.
According to the Director-General, “Council notes OAU’s responsiveness to the sensitivity of this issue and the written inquiries of the Council.”
“The Council further welcomes OAU’s decision to dismiss the member of faculty involved, and commends Ms. Monica Osagie for speaking up and demonstrating courage by securing credible evidence to substantiate her allegations.
Irukera who as in active legal practice for over two decades before his current appointment commended Osagie for her bravery, adding that the appropriate response of OAU would embolden other victims to resist harassment and speak-up when confronted.
Discussing the strength of the action, the civil rights lawyer-turned public servant said: “Both the approach of OAU and the outcome of its investigation convey the institution’s intolerance for this despicable behavior, and inspire confidence that such allegations will be thoroughly investigated, and when established, dissidents will be penalised to the full extent of the law.
He noted that “the exemplary response by OAU sets the standard and sends the appropriate message to other institutions, that learning and scholastic communities must be devoid of unacceptable behaviour, and that when such occurs, it will not be without consequence.”
The Council further encouraged OAU to collaborate with the criminal law enforcement authorities and any judicial process in order to ensure that the full course and weight of the law applies in the Akindele-Osagie case. This he said will serve as a deterrent to what appears to have become a pervasive pattern of behavior on many campuses.