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Sexual harassment bill scales second reading

By John Akubo (Abuja) and Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh (Uyo)
07 November 2019   |   4:30 am
The sexual harassment bill sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and 106 other senators scaled second reading yesterday after an elongated debate.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan (left), and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, during the session on the Sexual Harassment Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill 2019 in the Senate…yesterday.

• Randy dons risk 14 years sentence
• Rep calls for holistic approach against malaise

The sexual harassment bill sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, and 106 other senators scaled second reading yesterday after an elongated debate. The proposed legislation entitled ‘A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019’ has 27 clauses.It proposes 14 years jail term, with a minimum of five years, without an option of fine for any educator who commits sexual offences in tertiary institutions.

The bill defines sexual offences as “sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student or intimidating or creating a hostile or offensive environment for the student by soliciting sex or making sexual advances.”Senator Omo-Agege, in his lead debate, said, “The most effective way to deal with the offence of sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is to penalise the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent.”

According to him, sexual harassment must be defined in tertiary educational institutions as statutory rape with strict liability for offenders to be prosecuted easily.On the extension of the bill to primary, secondary schools, worship centres and the work place, Omo-Agege said doing so will not be necessary because the criminal and penal codes already deal with these categories with sufficient clarity. Similarly, Onofiok Luke, representing Etinan Constituency in the House of Representatives, has called on the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State, to adopt a holistic action plan to stem the malaise.

While delivering the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Lecture of UNIUYO, his alma mater, yesterday, he expressed dismay at the widespread corruption rocking the country’s higher institutions, noting that such practices combined to lower academic standards and the quality of graduates.The immediate past speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly charged managers and alumni of the institution to be in the vanguard of maintaining ethical values of the school to breed quality role models and good ambassadors in and outside Nigeria.

“This UNIUYO has given us the certification to attain various heights in life; what have we given back to the school? Like the eye surgeon, the alumni association is reminding us of the huge love this institution has shown us and is inviting us to reciprocate in our own way before regret sets in. This is a call to show commitment to the enhancement of educational standards in this institution,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Enefiok Essien, charged the alumni to show more than a passing commitment to the greater development of their alma mater by giving back to the institution that gave them fame and fortune.Chairman on the occasion and member of the House of Assembly representing Onna, Nse Essien, also an alumnus of the school, promised to continue to rally support for the institution, assuring that he would rally politicians and friends of the school to donate more to UNIUYO at the 2020 edition.