Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has warned randy lecturers that sexual harassment attracts seven years imprisonment.
Secretary to the commission, Mr. Clifford Oparaodu, gave the warning during a one-day sensitization workshop on Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions held at the ICPC’s headquarters on Wednesday, November 22, 2023.
Oparaodu also urged students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria not to be afraid of reporting issues of sexual harassment to the Commission.
He noted that one of the major challenges militating the fight against sexual harassment in tertiary institutions was lack of reportage from victims due to fear of stigmatization or further victimization.
“It is pertinent to note that unlawful benefits are not always pecuniary, and it is disheartening that sexual gratification has become a form of “illegal tender” in many institutions,” he said.
“Sexual harassment is a form of corruption. Staff have been found to use their office to demand and receive sexual benefits from other staff and students in exchange for good grades or other favours.
“Ideally, official duties ought to be carried out with integrity, good conscience and diligence without the expectation of any unlawful benefit.
According to him, Section 2 (f) of the ICPC Act states that gratification includes any service or favour of any description …” Section 8 of the ICPC Act says: “Any person who corruptly asks for, receives or obtains any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person; is guilty of an offence of Official corruption and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
“Unfortunately, due to the fear of stigmatization or further victimization, many targets of such demands find themselves forced to succumb, in order to avoid dire consequences and denial of benefits to which they may ordinarily even be entitled,” he said.
Mr. Oparaodu added that the culture of silence had allowed sexual harassment to thrive, but that ICPC was working relentlessly to ensure that with sensitization and appropriate policy implementation, this culture would gradually change.
He explained that the purpose of the workshop was to educate students about how to easily contact the ICPC, report incidents of sexual harassment, and gather evidence in a way that will support the commission’s investigations.
While reeling out some of the initiatives ICPC had executed to tackle Sexual Harassment, Mr. Oparaodu stated that the Commission had developed two Model Policies for Basic Schools (Primary and Secondary Schools) and Tertiary Institutions.
“At the close of the Project early this year, the Commission undertook to continue the vision by ensuring that the Model Policies are approved by the relevant authorities, widely circulated and publicized. It is in line with that undertaking that a series of workshops commenced after approval of the Policies by the Federal Ministry of Education,” he said.
“A team was set up in the Commission called the Sexual Harassment and Abuse Response Team (SHART) to co-ordinate investigation, prosecution of cases and enlightenment activities on Sexual Harassment. vi. Several reports relating to Sexual Harassment have been received and investigated by the Commission and prosecution is being carried out in some notable and identified cases.”