A Bill for an Act to make provision for the prohibition and punishment of sexual harassment of students by lecturers in tertiary institutions has been passed into law.
The Bill which was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) and 57 other co-sponsors, was read for the first time on Wednesday 4th May, 2016.
The objective of the Bill is to prohibit the offence of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions and impose stiff penalties on perpetrators.
It also creates a strict liability offence by removing mutual consent as a defence in prosecution of sexual harassment cases, as it were in the extant laws.
The new Act when signed to law, will not only prohibit lecturers from having sexual intercourse with underage students; it will also punish lecturers who demand for sex from female students as a condition to giving passing grades.
Presenting the report on the Bill to the Senate on Thursday, the Committee chairman on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru said the Bill enjoyed full supports of various stakeholders and civil society groups during public hearing.
As against the initial proposal of the sponsors of the Bill that any lecturer who harasses female student shall be liable to 3 years imprisonment; Senator Umaru said the clause has been amended.
“Any person who commits any of the acts specified in section 3 of this Act is guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment of up to 5 years but not less than 2 years and there shall be no option of fine”, the Bill reads.
It was, however, agreed upon presentation, that the penalty should be 5 years imprisonment or option of fine to the tune of N5m or both.
The Act also provides that the head of an institution upon receiving a written complaint of sexual harassment from a victim, shall set up a ‘Sexual Harassment Investigation Panel’ which shall submit its report in writing within 30 days.
The panel shall be headed by a non academic staff who is not less than the rank of Assistant Director, with 2 members of the Academic Union and 2 members of the Nigerian Bar Association.