The Nigerian Senate, on Wednesday, debated on a Bill for an Act to prevent, prohibit and redress sexual harassment of students in tertiary educational institutions and for other matters connected therewith and passed it at second reading.
Leading the debate for the second reading of the Bill, Deputy President of the Senate and the Sponsor of the Bill, Ovie Omo-Agege, said the Senate has a unique constitutional duty to protect citizens and shared values.
He recalled that the Bill was unanimously passed by the 8th Senate, when it united against sexual harassment in academic institutions as a serious challenge to the nation’s fundamental values.
But the inability of the House of Representatives to pass the concurrence of the Bill made it suffer defeat at the 8th Assembly.
The Deputy President of the Senate reiterated that as a father and like a vast majority of the citizenry and non citizens, “we all have or pray to have our children, wards, or relatives attend tertiary institutions for academic development”, stressing that the Bill would work for virtually every family in the country.
He stressed that sexual harassment in our campuses was a repugnant challenge to our values as a people.
“For far too long, sexual predators masquerading as educators have plied the corridors of our nation’s higher institutions unchecked. It will continue in the absence of appropriate leadership response.
“By this Bill, this 9th Senate is sending a very strong message that we refuse to put our students at the mercy of any sexual predator in our tertiary institutions.
“It is most offensive to suggest that mere suspension or termination of appointments is the appropriate remedy for the animalistic offense of sexually harassing another person,” he said.
Consequently, he stated that the Bill was an assurance to all that, the 9th Senate believes that, “when we send our children, especially daughters, nieces and wives to school, our educators will statutorily be their mentors, motivators and guardians.”
He added that, “for students, who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassments, the Bill prescribes expulsion for those students.
“In addition, an educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplications in this Bill”.
The Bill, which was co-sponsored by 105 other Senators, received the overwhelming support of the upper chambers and therefore passed second reading.