Addressing the epidemic of sexual harassment in Nigerian higher institutions


Within Nigerian higher educational institutions, the haunting specter of sexual harassment has woven its way into the very fabric of campus life. Like a dark cloud casting its shadow over the pursuit of knowledge, this distressing issue has become all too pervasive.

In the year 2018, a survey conducted by the esteemed World Bank Group’s Women shed light on a disheartening truth. It revealed that an astonishing 70 per cent of female graduates from tertiary institutions in Nigeria had endured the harrowing experience of sexual harassment during their academic journey.

The perpetrators of this heinous act, often lurking within the very halls of academia, take the form of classmates and even lecturers. Their actions have sown the seeds of fear and vulnerability, effectively transforming the once-hallowed grounds of education into a breeding ground for distress.

However, it is crucial to address this issue head-on and ensure that justice is served to protect the rights and well-being of students.

Over the past five years, media reports have highlighted the dismissal of 35 lecturers from Nigerian tertiary institutions due to sexual misconduct. While this indicates some progress, it is clear that more needs to be done.

The recent passage of a bill by the Senate, proposing a 21-year imprisonment for lecturers found guilty of sexual harassment, was a step in the right direction.

However, it is disheartening to learn that many of the lecturers indicted and found guilty after the bill’s passage were merely sacked. This lack of accountability undermines the severity of the issue and fails to provide justice for the victims.

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, has emerged as a hotspot for sexual misconduct cases. The university has taken action by suspending and dismissing several lecturers involved in such incidents.

In 2018, the indefinite suspension of Professor Richard Oladele, a renowned accounting professor, sent a strong message that sexual harassment would not be tolerated.

Similarly, in 2021, three lecturers from different departments were dismissed for their involvement in sexual harassment cases. These actions demonstrate the university’s commitment to addressing the issue.

Also, Ambrose Ali University (AAU), Ekpoma, also faced a sexual harassment scandal involving an associate professor, Monday Igbafen. The university promptly suspended Igbafen after allegations of sexual harassment emerged.

However, it is worth noting that Igbafen, who was also the branch chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the time, accused the vice-chancellor of framing him. This incident highlights the need for impartial investigations and fair processes to ensure justice for both the accused and the victims.

The dismissals of lecturers from the University of Port Harcourt, the Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, and Kwara State University, Malete, serve as stark reminders of the urgent need for comprehensive measures to combat sexual misconduct within academia.

In August of 2021, the University of Port Harcourt took a commendable step by announcing the dismissal of a lecturer from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature due to sexual misconduct.

Following suit, the Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi made headlines in October 2021 when it dismissed two lecturers from the departments of Nutrition/Dietetics and General Studies for engaging in sexual misconduct.

The dismissal of a lecturer from the Department of Sociology at Ignatius Ajuru University of Education for impregnating a female student was a necessary step towards upholding ethical standards. This incident highlighted the power dynamics at play within academia and the need for a safe and inclusive learning environment.

In December 2021, Kwara State University, Malete, took a firm stand against sexual misconduct by dismissing a lecturer for harassing a student in the Department of Pure and Applied Sciences. This action reinforced the university’s commitment to protecting its students from any form of abuse.

The year 2022 witnessed the Elechi Amadi Polytechnic in Rivers State taking a firm stance against a lecturer who had shamelessly harassed a female student, resulting in his dismissal.

Not long after, the prestigious OAU found itself entangled in a web of scandal as allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against a professor in the Department of Linguistics and African Studies. This prompted a thorough investigation, which ultimately led to the downfall of two esteemed professors within the institution.

As the year progressed, the University of Abuja was not spared from the clutches of disgrace. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Abdul-Raheed Na’allah, made a solemn announcement in June 2022, revealing the dismissal of two lecturers who had succumbed to the darkness of sexual misconduct. Shockingly, these individuals held the esteemed title of professors, tarnishing the reputation of their academic prowess.

The year 2023 brought with it further revelations of corruption within the educational sphere. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission exposed the despicable actions of Dr. Balogun Olaniran from the Tai Solarin University of Education. This lecturer had shamelessly demanded sexual favors from a female student in exchange for altering her results, a grave betrayal of trust.

In the same year, the Kogi State Polytechnic bid farewell to a lecturer named Abutu Thompson. His dismissal was a direct consequence of his abhorrent behavior, involving sexual harassment and victimization of a female student in the Department of Computer Science.

Such actions not only shattered the dreams of the victim but also tainted the reputation of the institution.The Ambrose Alli University in Edo State was not immune to the epidemic of sexual harassment. Reports emerged in May, detailing the dismissal of an unnamed lecturer. The institution’s Staff Disciplinary Committee had found him guilty of this heinous offense, leading to his expulsion from the academic realm.

The dismissed lecturer attempted to justify his actions by claiming they were mere advances, but his plea for forgiveness at the girl’s church only served to highlight the depth of his wrongdoing.

The University of Abuja once again found itself embroiled in scandal in July 2023. The Vice-Chancellor, Na’allah, reluctantly revealed the dismissal of two lecturers following allegations of sexual harassment.

In August, the University of Calabar faced its own reckoning as the embattled Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, was suspended amidst allegations of sexual harassment.

The year 2023 took a grim turn when the University of Lagos suspended a lecturer named Kadri Babalola on September 7. The accusation against him was nothing short of horrifying – the rape of a 21-year-old student.

These incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct within Nigerian institutions cast a shadow over the pursuit of knowledge and the sanctity of the student-teacher relationship. They serve as a call to action, demanding that universities prioritize the safety and well-being of their students, and that perpetrators be held accountable for their actions. Only through collective efforts can the academic realm be purged of such darkness, allowing the light of education to shine brightly once more.

The call for action against sexual harassment in universities has been echoed by Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In a bid to combat this issue, Prof Osodeke urged students to report any cases of sexual harassment to the school authorities and the student union

The prevalence of sexual harassment in Nigerian higher educational institutions is a grave concern that demands immediate attention. While some institutions have taken commendable steps to address the issue, more needs to be done to ensure accountability and protect the rights of students.

Additionally, the government must enforce the recently passed bill and ensure that lecturers found guilty of sexual harassment face appropriate legal consequences. Only through collective efforts can we create a safe and inclusive educational environment for all students in Nigeria.


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