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Senate passes sexual harassment bill

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 Senator Ovie Omo-Agege

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege

• Seeks five-year jail term, N5m fine for convicted lecturer
• Approves N70.6 billion as NCC’s 2016 budget

The Senate has passed the Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Bill, which provides for a five-year jail term for a lecturer convicted for sexually harassing male or female students.

The bill, which was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege, also proposed a fine of N5 million in the alternative.

It also made provisions for lecturers and educators who may be falsely accused by their students to initiate processes by which students could be punished for false accusation.

Addressing journalists yesterday‎ after the passage of the bill, Omo-Agege, said the menace of sexual harassment had been there for a long time and had gone unchecked.

In another development, the upper legislative chamber has approved N70.6 billion for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as its 2016 budget.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in July 2016 submitted NCC’s budget proposal alongside 37 other federal agencies to the National Assembly for approval.

Out of the N70.6 billion budget, recurrent expenditure takes N22.2 billion, capital expenditure gets N15.7 billion, N6.6 billion for special projects while N8.6 billion and N17.7 billion will be transferred to the Universal Service Provision Fund and the Federal Government respectively.

The passage of the budget followed consideration of the report of the committee on commissions.

Presenting the commission’s budget, chairman of the committee, Gilbert Nnaji, said the commission’s revenue consists of yearly operating levy (N29 billion), license fees (N1.2 billion), spectrum fees (N35.7 billion), numbering plan (N4.4 billion), administrative charges (N1.5 million), type approval fees (N165 million) and sundry income (N30.3 million).

Explaining how the Senate arrived at the five-year jail term, the lawmaker said: “As you recall, when we pushed this bill, we actually proposed a punishment of three years and a fine of N1 million, but the Senate in its wisdom felt that even that was not enough and they wanted to send a stronger message and as a result of that, they have increased the punishment from three years to five years and the fine from N1 million to N5 million or both.

“We have now removed the element of consent as a defence. As you know, most of you are familiar with the law. Consent is always a defence to a charge of rape. The way we make it statutory rape whether or not consent is given becomes immaterial and the prosecution will no longer have to prove whether or not the consent of the female was obtained.

“That is the case with minors and that is what we have achieved today with our female students in higher institutions. Now, it is touch and go. You stay away from these girls. You touch them as a lecturer, you know there is a price to pay. Somebody describes it as a zip up legislation.”



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