President Muhammadu Buhari has advocated stricter laws to prevent girls from being abused in Nigeria’s schools.
In his reaction to the recent high profile revelation of sexual abuse cases in institutions of higher learning in the country, Mr Buhari said he is glad that the incident, exposed through under-cover news reporting at University of Lagos has spurred an amendment to our laws regarding the issue in the National Assembly.
Buhari said such proposed amendments passed by the Legislature will get his support as long as they conform to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The country must do more to address incidents of sexual violence, sexual abuses in our schools, discrimination, human trafficking and cultural practices that violate women’s rights,” said the President.
He urged law enforcement agencies and school administrators to take up such cases with every seriousness and ensure that perpetrators face the consequences of their actions.
“Survivors and their families must avoid cover-up. They should be encouraged to come forth and report cases of abuses wherever and whenever they occur,” the President demanded.
Senate had on Wednesday revisited the sexual harassment bill which was sponsored by Mr Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central) and passed by the 8th Senate.
The Bill, which was introduced by the 8th Senate in October 2016, seeks a five-year jail term and five million naira fine for lecturers convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.
According to the bill, an educator will be “guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment against a student if he/she has sexual intercourse with a student who is less than 18 years of age; has sexual intercourse with a student or demands sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to study in an institution, or as a condition to the giving of a passing grade or the granting of honour and scholarships.”
The bill prescribes that: “Any person who commits any of the acts specified in Section 4 of this Act is guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment of up to five years, but not less than two years without any option of a fine.”
The bill had suffered a setback as it was not given Presidential assent after its passage by the 8th Senate.
The reintroduced bill is also sponsored by Mr Omo-Agege. The reconsideration of the bill is coming days after a BBC investigative report exposed two lecturers of University of Lagos for alleged sexual harassment of female students.