The Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) on Monday, February 17; canvassed for the review of existing laws to adequately address the issue of sexual harassment in higher schools.
This position was, meanwhile, made public by the National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, at a public hearing on ‘Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institution Prohibition Bill’; sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
Equally important, the ASUU president further disabused the widespread notion that it is not in favour of the fight against sexual harassment.
Ogunyemi, moreover, stressed that if there was a law that addressed issues relating to sexual harassment; there was also no need wasting time on another law.
According to him, “Are there no laws that would address this same problem we are concerned about? I think the answer is yes. We have the Act of 2015.
“We should reconcile this bill with that Act to cover our new areas of concern. Are we also going to formulate a separate law to address corruption in universities; are we going to formulate other laws to address sexual harassment in the police force?
“If we find any law deficient, what does it cost us to review it? This bill has failed to take cognisance of various extant legislation that currently deal with sexual offences. I see confusion between sexual harassment and abuse.”
Ogunyemi said there was a need to review the existing laws; as well as recognise the autonomy of the universities.
He added: “We have a law-the autonomy law of 2007-legislated by the National Assembly; which has already made provisions for us to address all of these.
“We talk of the institutional procedures-these procedures are irreconcilable with prosecution.
“There are aspects that are criminal; immediately such instance happens; we know where to go. Universities are currently handling problems like this and we should also not agree with you; we should also not discredit our custodians of knowledge.”