The Senate was on Tuesday 7 July, 2020 passed for Third Reading a bill which seeks to protect students against sexual harassment; especially by lecturers and staffers in the tertiary institutions across the country.
Although, Penalties depend on the offence committed with a jail term of close to 14 years, without option of fine.
While presenting the report of the committee; Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Bamidele Opeyemi noted that in the bill; there is nothing like mutual consent as contained in clause 7.
“It has been made an offence by removing mutual consent as a defence in prosecution of sexual harassment cases in tertiary educational institutions and maintaining relationship that exists between educators and students with the aim of making our tertiary institutions conducive centres of learning”
“This bill seeks to tame the hydra-headed monster in the name of sexual harassment; which has become a pandemic in our tertiary institutions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the bill was highly debated as it also proposed that every suspect should be tried without proof; even when the victim is not a minor.
However, the Senate leader, Yahaya Abdullahi and the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, found the clause faulty; noting that some female students might equally be guilty. Nevertheless, the original provision was sustained when put to a voice vote.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said; “We have to protect our daughters, sister and mothers from predators”
“We wanted means for determining what offence someone is accused of. It is a balanced legislation. We want our tertiary institutions to be safe for everyone.” He said.