The Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele has said that the Sexual Harassment of students in Tertiary education institutions prohibition Bill seeks to impose stiff or deterring punitive measures on perpetrators and intending perpetrators.
He explained that the bill will also criminalize the act of neglect or failure by administrative heads of tertiary institutions to address complaints of sexual harassment within a specified period
Senator Opeyemi gave the explanation at a one day public hearing on the Bill in Abuja saying the Bill has generated a lot of comments from Many stakeholders and other Nigerians since it was introduced on the floor of the Red Chamber.
Meanwhile President of the Senate who was represented at the event by Senate Leader Yahaya Abduallahi, said that Senate will accommodate the views of stakeholders in order to rid the nation’s tertiary institutions of incidences of sexual harassment.
The bill was sponsored by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege seeks to impose stiffer penalties on perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment.
The bill proposes up to 14 years jail term, with a minimum of 5 years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.
Public hearing was attended by members of the general public including stakeholders from Ministries, Department and Agencies; Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and Civil Society Organizations.
Recall that the 8th Assembly of the Senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki had passed the bill titled: “Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill”
The bill was however rejected by the House of Representatives when it was sent for concurrence.
Then Femi Gbajabiamila, who is now the Speaker of the House of Representatives, had argued that the bill did not take care of other spheres of the society like the workplace, religious institutions among others an argument which was adopted by many members of the House.
The re-introduction of the Bill comes after a BBC documentary exposed two lecturers of the University of Lagos, and a lecturer of the University of Ghana of sexual harassment.