ASUU opposes sexual harassment bill

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has kicked against the Sexual Harassment Bill pending before the Senate.
According to the union, the aim of the Bill was to undermine university autonomy.

President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, who spoke at a Public Hearing on the Sexual Harassment Bill, 2016, organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in Abuja described the bill as uncalled for.

Ogunyemi said, “As a global norm, universities and other tertiary institutions are established by law as autonomous bodies and have their own laws regulating their affairs.

“This includes misconduct generally among both staff and students, and clearly articulated appropriate redress mechanism.

“Any law or bill which seeks to supplant these laws violates the university autonomy.

“In this particular instance, the bill violates the Federal Government of Nigeria and ASUU agreement of 2009 and as such should be rejected.”

The ASUU President further said that the bill was discriminatory because it was targeted at educators.

He noted that it was unfair to come up with such a bill, especially when sexual harassment was a societal problem and not peculiar to tertiary institutions.

Ogunyemi said that the bill was also a violation of Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution.

He said, “The bill is discriminatory, selective, spiteful, and impulsive and lacks logic and any intellectual base by attacking the character and persons of those in tertiary institutions rather than addressing the issue holistically.

“Furthermore the bill is dangerous and inimical to the institutions as it contains several loose and ambiguous words and terms which could also be used to harass, intimidate, victimize and persecute especially lecturers through false accusation.”

Meawnhile, the National University Commission (NUC) has thrown its weight behind the passage of the bill in view of its relevance.

Executive Secretary of the Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie, noted that while federal and state universities had administrative structures for handling grievances, there was nothing wrong in having a legislation to help further.

He said, “University Miscellaneous Provision Act gives them power to formulate policies and by-laws to guide them and most institutions have structures to handle these incidences.

“However, there is nothing wrong if there is a legislation to add to what is on ground. We are only saying that universities are doing something about sexual harassment, which may not be enough.”

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