The Nigeria Feminist Forum (NFF) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigerian 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.
NFF also revealed that the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and Law survey (2018), disclosed that 70 per cent of female graduates from Nigerian tertiary institutions have been sexually harassed in school.
The women group lamented that the appalling statistics of sexual harassment in higher education institutions calls 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.
In a statement issued by NFF and signed by it’s Communications/Programmes Assistant, Adaeze Ekpunobi which was made available to newsmen on Saturday, the Forum declared that they are committed to supporting initiatives that promote gender equality, address sexual harassment, and create a conducive learning environment for all, appealing to critical stakeholders in policy formulation and implementation to do the needful in order to safe female students in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions from incessant sexual harassment by some randy lecturers.
The NFF also 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.
“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 said.
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.