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Nigerian University Denies Allegations of Misconduct
Students and officials don't see eye to eye on the problem of sexual harassment
Bala Muhammad Makosa (babanjawad)     Print Article 
Published 2008-03-03 10:29 (KST)   
Reports of cultism, sexual harassment and other vices have cropped up at most universities in Nigeria in recent years. At Bayero University Kano (BUK) a few weeks ago, two women reported a case of sexual harassment to journalists, claiming that a lecturer attempted to sleep with them before he would pass them. There have been other allegations of misconduct by lecturers as well as by students. I recently visited the BUK campus to meet with students and university officials.

At the main gate, a billboard implores students to dress decently.
©2008 Bala Muhammad Makosa

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e main gate to BUK, there's a billboard with the message, "Dress decently." But once on campus it seems few people abide by this instruction, despite being in an Islamic-oriented state.

Hauwa Adoke of the Department of Mass Communication, a young female student from Kogi state, assured me that the phenomenon had been taking place for some time and expressed her ill feelings over the manner by which some female students tend to violate the dress code.

"If you are entering into the school, you can see the bill board there. I believe students should abide to the rules and regulations. But there are some students, they don't really believe on that," Adoke said.

"But religiously, especially Muslims, you should dress decently. Your body should be covered. So, the way they dress, they call the attention of men; thus, they don't need to complain they have been harassed."

She also said, "It all depends on how you present yourself to a teacher. But I believe teachers take part in it."

Hauwa noted that she has been harassed sexually several times, but by male students not by lecturers. "I have never been harassed by a lecturer, but students harass me every time. They will stop you and look you up and down even if you dress decent."

Shehu Dalhatu, dean of student affairs, had this to say: "In my experience at the university, it is not the lecturers that are harassing the students; it is the students that are harassing the lecturers. Because they come with all sorts of explanations, all sorts of excuses to have access to the lecturer. And it is usually when you resist that you are given names and stories that never happened."

Dalhatu said they have mechanisms in place that allow victims to report incidents under condition of anonymity, but that few students availed themselves of it.

"If students have reported a case," Dalhatu said, "it will be investigated without their name being mentioned as the person who has reported a case."
"People go around making all sorts of allegations that are not proven. I can assure that once there is a case that is reported, it must be investigated, and once it is investigated and proven, I have no doubt in my mind that very decisive action will be taken."

A Sexual Harassment Committee had been constituted with a majority if its members being women on staff at the university. But the dean doesn't believe it will uncover any culprits: "We make it possible with them to interact, to feel free to report things. But if they don't report, what can you do?"
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bala Muhammad Makosa

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