As a second lecturer of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is indicted by the BBC sex-for-grades video, prominent Nigerians have called for greater action against sex offenders, report KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE, DAMOLA KOLA-DARE and SAMPSON UNAMKA
Notable members of the society, including the President’s wife, Hajia Aisha Buhari, and wife of the Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, have condemned randy lecturers.
This follows Monday’s screening of the full 53 minutes sex-for-grades documentary by BBC Africa Eye, which indicted a second lecturer of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr Samuel Oladipo, who teaches Economics. The management of the University has also suspended Oladipo.
“The second lecturer in the BBC documentary has been suspended also,” Principal Assistant Registrar (Communications Unit), Mrs Taiwo Oloyede, said yesterday.
Aside Oladipo, the video also indicted Dr Igheneghu, a French lecturer in the institution’s Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, as well as two other lecturers from the University of Ghana, Legon, Dr Paul Kwame Batakor (Institute of Education), and Prof Ransford Gyampo (Department of Political Science).
Speaking through Mrs Aisha Rimi, a lawyer, Mrs Buhari urged victims to learn to speak up.
“This simply has to change. It is no longer enough to sweep allegations under the carpet or force victims to withdraw their allegations, victimise or stigmatise them,” she said.
Mrs Fayemi called for an end to the culture of silence by victims of sexual abuse.
“You know people don’t talk about things like this. I was watching the documentary and there were three words that came to me, one is voice, it is time to speak up and speak out and for those who do we need to stand with them and stand by them and not silence them because the culture of silence has endured enough.”
In the video indicting Oladipo, BBC reporter, Kiki Mordi, was waiting for the undercover reporter who visited Igheneghu when Oladipo literarily dragged her to his office and insisted on getting her phone number.
He repeatedly invited her to his office during which time Kiki described his behaviour as inappropriate. During one of the visits, he expressed his desire to “love” her and even touched her hand.
Oladipo: “And me, I want to love you”
Kiki: “Ah, eh:”
Oladipo: “Seriously…(leaning close)… “You’re sweet. Fine girl!”
Oladipo ignored all her inquiries about switching from another department to Economics and navigated the conversation back to her body but paused when he noticed a scar on her hand.
Kiki: “It’s drip. Drip mark”
Oladipo: “When did you get this?”
Kiki: “Since. One time I had malaria they had to check injection in my hand”
Kiki: “Yes,” “very painful”
After repeatedly asking Kiki to the UNILAG Staff Club, the reporter agreed to go on their third meeting.
He took her straight to the ‘cold room’ – the part of the club, located on the second floor where lecturers take students for escapades. The room has blacked out windows, disco lights and comfortable seats.
They happened on a party, which Oladipo said was by a female student of the University.
Kiki: “Are these students?”
Kiki: “Students at UNILAG?”
Oladipo: “Yes! They are the ones having a birthday party.”
Some of students and lecturers were seen dancing. Kiki declined to join in even though a lecturer (not Oladipo) tried to force her.
When she moved to a quiet place of the room, Oladipo joined her and she asked whether it was appropriate for them to have such relationship.
Oladipo: “I really want to get closer to you but I hardly know you and you are not ready to know me.”
Kiki: “I do not know if it is right for a lecturer and a student to be like, I don’t know, very casual.”
Oladipo: “Who is a lecturer?”
Kiki: “The person who lectures.”
Oladipo: “We are both human beings right?”
Oladipo: “Are we adults or children?”
When she asked to leave, Oladipo groped her breast from behind. He stopped when she protested.
Oladipo: “Can I really trust?”
Kiki: “No, please, don’t touch me without my..; no don’t. It’s rude to hold without asking.”
The video noted that Oladipo denied groping Kiki when confronted. Rather, he claimed Kiki reached out to him first under the pretext of knowing her. He also claimed it was the first time he was visiting the cold room.
More UNILAG students speak up
A 100-Level student of Philosophy said a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts was always “admiring” her curves and body structure. She noted that the said lecturer then invited her to his office but she declined.
She added that sexual harassment is rampant in the whole Faculty.
She said: “There is this lecturer in my department that always tells me he liked my body, my curves and everything, such that he even invited me to his office, but I refused to go.”
Another student in the Department of English worried that the scourge would not stop because nothing would happen to the lecturers after the outcry.
She said no matter the CCTV cameras installed and videos leaked on the internet, it would continue.
She lamented that the students have lost their voice because, according to her, once this dies down, everybody forgets about it and then it will happen again.
“Let me tell you, this thing has been happening ever since; and it still continues. So my appeal to the authorities is that they should find a way of stemming the tide,” she said.
Another respondent noted that the incident is not peculiar to UNILAG alone. According to her, though saddening, it happens in other universities. She regretted that despite the punitive measures involved, some lecturers still persist in the unethical act.
She said: “This is a common thing in Nigerian Universities. It is only when a lecturer is exposed that people get to hear. It is not new, but measures should be put in place to curb the menace.”
A 300-level student of the Faculty of Education, who said Igheneghu was his pastor at the Foursquare Gospel Church, Yaba, and the Foursquare Students’ Fellowship on the UNILAG campus, described his involvement as painful.
He said: “It is very painful because I mean Dr, Boniface is my pastor; he is the head pastor of our branch Foursquare church in Yaba, which is the closest church to the school and he was also the head of our school Foursquare Student Fellowship.”
The student said Igheneghu stopped the students’ service at the church on Sundays on the purported claim that they were doing inappropriate things.
He said it resulted in the church losing student members. However, he added he did not believe the documentary was not scripted.
“So the former pastor retired and then Dr Boniface became the pastor and he suddenly stopped students’ service and forced everyone to attend the normal service from 8-11am because the students service used to be from 12-2pm.
“His reason was because students were doing some stuffs that were not allowed in the church. So when I first heard of the video I thought it was a stunt about our church until I now watched the clip. We always hear of rumours of this act but we do not know which is true up till now I do not still believe it is true. I believe it was scripted.”
A student, who knows Dr Igheneghu’s son, said: “I just feel for Dr Boniface’s son. My roommate who is in the same class with him said students have been throwing shades at the poor boy that he even had to opt out from the class group platform and other platform including their church platform so I wonder what must he must be going through and this is going to really affect his career somehow.”
A 300-level Creative art student said many younger lecturers would not have been so easily exposed as they know how to frustrated undercover jobs.
She said: “I felt like isn’t this a normal thing because it is very common in my school and schools in Nigeria in general. In short science department is worse.
“I know someone that had extra semester and because he was a guy his case was worse because the girls could open their leg and they passed but the guy could not pay up the bribe fee of N50k and that was how he got an extra year.
“Even before I got into this school we have been hearing of things like this. Right now lecturers are even smarter than you think. This one it is because he is aged. I guess because he should be about 50 plus. When you enter a younger lecturers office if they want to tell you about sex for grades they increase the volume of the radio in their office so you cannot even record so they are smarter these days and they keep upgrading their methods.”
Igheneghu’s attempted suicide rumour and a visit to Reddington Hospital
A Faceboook post claimed that Igheneghu attempted suicide Monday night by drinking sniper and was rushed to Reddington Hospital.
Our reporter visited Reddington hospital in Ikeja GRA following the rumour but was told it was false.
The Front desk head denied admitting any Mr Boniface, adding that the hospital had been receiving calls all day. He said even the Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Dr Yemi Onabowale, also called to confirm the report.
Igheneghu’s office, Cold Room sealed
When our reporter visited Igbeneghu’s office, it had been sealed off with wide bars and with the inscription: “Sealed by the management, University of Lagos”.
Our reporter also visited the Senior Staff Club, the building that houses the “Cold Room”. It was also locked with the inscription: “Closed”.
Threats to Kiki’s life
Kiki Mordi, the undercover journalist behind the documentary, said she received threats after completing the investigation.
Mordi said: “I have received subtle threats since this work was completed but I am not bothered because the BBC takes the security of employees seriously,” she told Sahara reporters.
“Before embarking on this project, the team prayed a lot and also sang because it helped to calm the nerves. But I had to go through the trainings I received over and over again because I wanted to get it right.
“The biggest goal of this work was to be louder than the aggressor because sexual harassment is very loud. I wanted it to be silenced.”