The Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre has hailed the judgement of Justice Maureen Onyetenu of a Federal High Court in Osogbo that convicted Prof Richard Akindele and sentenced him to two years in prison , describing it as “ a lesson to others ” .
The organisation called on Nigerian universities to put sexual harassment policies in place and strengthen students ’ complaints mechanism.
Akindele, a former lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile -Ife , was sentenced to two years in prison for demanding sexual benefits from his student, Monica Osagie .
The WARDC and its Executive Director , Dr Abiola Akiyode- Afolabi , stood for Osagie and provided free legal services for her.
Akiyode- Afolabi , in a statement by the WARD Director of Legal Aid, Emmanuella Azu, expressed her delight at the court verdict .
The gender activist commended Osagie for her courage despite intimidations .
She said , “ It will serve as deterrent to other lecturers who exploit vulnerable students and harass them sexually on campus . We therefore call on the university authorities across the country to put sexual harassment policies in place and strengthen students ’ complaints mechanism.
“ The most effective ways to stop sexual harassment is to prevent it from happening . The burden of preventing sexual harassment rests on the school authorities, who have a duty of care for the students . ”
She added , “ Osagie ’ s courage is already serving as inspiration for victims of sexual harassment to speak up. ”
According to her, since Akindele’ s case , there have been two reports of sexual harassment in two universities .
Akiyode- Afolabi said , “ We have also received several calls from students who have claims of sexual harassments. In some of the schools , no policy or mechanism exists to prevent sexual harassment .
“ The diligent prosecution by the ICPC , the actions of the OAU authorities , vigilance of the women ’ s rights community and Nigerians on the matter is a historic milestone in achieving safe spaces for women in the country .
“ The WARDC will continue to fight for the rights of the girl- child and the elimination of all forms of violence against women.”