The Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC) recently unveiled its intention to create a special team/unit to deal with cases of sexual abuse.
This was revealed by the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye during the national stakeholder engagement and presentation of the draft Model Policies on Sexual Harassment in Educational Institutions in Abuja.
At the event, the President said the program aims to engage civil society stakeholders, government agencies, public and private educational institutions and other sectors to critically review draft policies. on sexual harassment.
To emphasize, he said the last three years have been special for the education sector and that the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting confinement and the forced adjustments to the academic calendar have all exacerbated the situation of an unprecedented way.
“It would be a travesty of justice if students at schools that have weathered all the above storms finally pick up again only to become victims of another challenge, sexual harassment.”
“The purpose of this engagement is to reflect on and review draft documents that the commission and Gender Mobile have written in the hope that these documents will eventually be adopted as models for educational institutions when writing organizational policies. Individuals on Sexual Harassment.”
It goes without saying that the initiative is commendable. This is all the more so since this task falls within the competence of the anti-corruption agency.
CIPC creates a special unit to fight against sexual abuse
A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has ruled that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) has the right to investigate a former Dean of the University of Calabar Law School, Professor Cyril Ndifon , on an allegation of office abuse.
Judge IE Ekwo, who handed down his judgment on March 2, 2017, in an action brought against the ICPC by the law professor, in which he sought to prevent the Commission from investigating the alleged offense of demanding a gratuity sexual assault of a University student, maintained that it was within the jurisdiction of CPIC to investigate the matter under the Corrupt Practices and Related Offenses Act 2000.
The trial judge ruled that the police report that exonerated Ndifon had no bearing on the Commission’s investigation into an allegation of abuse of power against him.
He added that the offense of sexual gratification was contrary to sections 8, 9 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Act 2000, which refer to any public official who receives a benefit of any kind. either in the exercise of its functions or uses. his position to bestow a corrupted advantage on himself.
It should be recalled that a final-year law student filed a petition with CPIC alleging that the professor had sex with her in his office without her consent, after inviting her to the office to retake a canceled test more early.
Of course, the commission has the mandate to take on the task, especially in a society where victims rarely report sexual harassment.
According to statista.com, in 2019, 59 cases of sexual violence were reported in Nigeria. The majority of the victims were women, which represented 56 cases. Compared to 2017, the number of cases reported to authorities has increased.
Furthermore, a poll conducted by NOIPOLLS in July 2019 revealed that most Nigerians (85%) believe that there is a high prevalence of rape in Nigeria. This is, in our opinion, a worrying situation!
According to the report, “about three in 10 Nigerians (26%) said they knew someone who had been raped in the past and the victims of rape were in particular minors and young adults between the ages of 1 and 15 (72% ) and 16 to 25 years (24%) respectively. This statistic implies that one in three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual abuse by the age of 25”.
As NOIPOLL revealed, “There are perceptions that rape cases have been under-reported, particularly to the police, results showed that just over half (53%) of respondents reported mentioned that incidents of rape had been reported to the police. Of this proportion, 67% acknowledged that the offenders had been arrested, while 33% said that the offenders had not been arrested. This implies that approximately 3 perpetrators in 10 of this heinous crime often do not face the drum or the dictates of the crime law, even when reported to the police”
As a newspaper, we support any initiative aimed at combating this oppressive act. Student abuse in academic institutions remained a major cause of concern in the country. Sex-for-grades scandals have remained another sore spot in the history of the country’s academic institutions, especially in universities.
We believe that the commission, however, should operate in such a way that abused people are confident enough to come forward and report cases. It will therefore be equally important that he embarks on a solid social awareness and that he also puts in place structures to protect those who are abused.
Further, we suggest that the commission ensure that it operates in such a way that innocent people are not victimized. The tendency to engage in media lawsuits must be tamed, otherwise the whole essence of the initiative will be destroyed.
A balance between thorough investigations and the prompt administration of justice will be essential.