The Nigeria Feminist Forum (NFF) has expressed concerned over the recent allegations of sexual harassment levelled against Mr. Cyril Ndifon, a Professor of Law at the University of Calabar, Cross River State.
This was contained in a statement issued and signed by Adaeze Ekpunobi the Communications/Programmes Assistant of Nigerian Feminist Forum.
According to the statement NFF strongly condemn any form of sexual harassment of women in tertiary institutions and stand in solidarity with the brave female students who have come forward to voice their experiences.
The statement further said that the suspension of Mr. Ndifon from his position as Dean of the Faculty of Law is a necessary step towards addressing the serious allegations against him, noting that the incident highlights the urgent need for the President of Nigeria to sign the Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Education Prohibition Bill into law.
“We therefore call on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sign the bill into law to protect students against sexual harassment by educators and promote ethical standards in tertiary institutions in the country.
“It is deeply concerning that this is not the first time Mr. Ndifon has faced allegations of sexual misconduct. The previous suspension in 2015 following accusations of rape raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the measures taken to address such misconduct.
“The lack of clear evidence exonerating him after his 2015 suspension is a cause for alarm and underscores the importance of a transparent and just investigation process” the statement said.
The Nigeria Feminist Forum therefore urged the management of University of Calabar to establish an impartial and expert-led panel to thoroughly investigate the allegations against Mr. Ndifon.
NFF also called for the active participation and protection of survivors throughout the investigation to ensure that their voices are heard, and their rights respected.
“The World Bank Group’s Women, Business and Law survey (2018), notes that 70 per cent of female graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions have been sexually harassed in school.
“The appalling statistics of sexual harassment in higher education institutions call for an urgent need for all higher education institutions to prioritize students and staff’s safety and well-being by implementing clear and robust sexual harassment policies.
“These policies should encompass stringent measures to prevent and address incidents of sexual harassment, ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.
“The NFF advocates for the establishment of confidential reporting mechanisms, support services, and awareness campaigns aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment on campuses. It is imperative that a culture of respect, dignity, and equality be fostered within academic environments where everyone can thrive without fear of harassment or discrimination.
“We call upon the President, policy makers, university administrators, and civil society organisations to collaborate in crafting and enforcing comprehensive sexual harassment policies that guarantee the safety and dignity of women within higher education institutions.
“The Nigeria Feminist Forum is committed to supporting initiatives that promote gender equality, address sexual harassment, and create a conducive learning environment for all” the statement said.
The Nigerian Feminist Forum is a public policy forum of Nigerian women who self-define themselves as feminists and are recognized to ‘walk the talk’ in our fundamentalist and extremely vulnerable contexts, promoting gender equality, women’s rights, and social justice in Nigeria.
The NFF also works to create a more inclusive and equitable society through awareness campaigns and policy advocacy.
This forum became a reality in 2007 and has been in existence since 2008. The African Charter on Feminist Principles guides our work and engagements.