By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria has condemned the alleged sexual harassment of female students by the embattled Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Calabar, Prof. Cyril Osim Ndifon, insisting that all forms of gender-based violence against women, particularly those against female students in secondary and tertiary institutions by staff of the institutions, such as teachers and lecturers must be stopped.
According to the statement signed by the Country Vice President/National President FIDA Nigeria, Amina Suzanah Agbaje, (Mrs.), FIDA vehemently denounced these acts as vile and an ugly menace that must be eradicated from our institutions of learning, and our society at large. Adding that students are in school to be educated and must be guided and protected while learning, not to be intimidated and taken advantage of because of their vulnerability and/or gender.
“It is alarming that sexual harassment of females particularly in tertiary institutions has assumed a perilously critical dimension, constituting a
horrifying kind of violence targeted at violating the fundamental human rights of a person. It is a form of sexual victimization of an individual using unequal power relations. This pandemic is so vile and encompasses acts revolving around explicit or implicit sexual overtures including unwelcome sexual remarks or physical advances, and
inappropriate promises of reward in exchange for sexual favours in the workplace, professional or social setting amongst others.
“These acts have been criminalized by the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act 2015 and indeed, the extant VAPP Law of Cross Rivers State. Being that the state and all persons of goodwill are
under a duty to give effect to these statutory provisions against all forms of violence, including desisting from aiding and/or abetting of same in
any manner or to any degree, FIDA Nigeria therefore unequivocally condemns the alleged intimidation of some of the students who bravely spoke up on the alleged Ndifon’s case, currently under investigation.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Barr. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, by her professional calling and the expectations of her ministerial office, owes
a duty of leading the charge towards protecting women from all acts of abuse, including encouraging and supporting victims of sexual and
gender-based violence to break the culture of silence and get justice, hence the alleged distasteful manner in which she interrogated the vulnerable and possibly traumatized students is shocking and greatly disappointing.
FIDA Nigeria is keenly observing, and shall not hesitate to proceed against such perpetrators, and all persons or individuals who support such acts of violence either by their utterances or actions/ inaction, or who may try to suppress the reportage of these sort of violence meted out to persons. We remain steadfast on our mandate to protect,
promote, and preserve the rights of vulnerable women and children using the instrumentality of law, strongly supporting and standing behind all survivors of violence of any kind, including those of sexual harassment and all forms of gender-based violence, and encouraging them to speak up on these crimes as their voices aere meant to be heard,
and justice delivered for the crimes perpetrated against them.
According to the Country Vice President, “as the probe panel constituted to further investigate all facets of this case against the embattled Dean Prof C. Ndifon continue in their task, FIDA Nigeria is closely monitoring the proceedings and shall not stand by and watch perpetrators and supporters of these heinous crimes whether highly placed or not, harass, cower, intimidate, badger, suppress and or attempt to wriggle their way out of facing justice and shall follow this matter intently to ensure that justice is gotten at the end of the day, as no one is above the law.
FIDA Nigeria therefore, called on the Government, NAPTIP, Law Enforcement Agencies, Civil Society Organizations, and indeed everyone to stand up against this scourge that has slowly crept into the fabric of our nation and ensure that all forms of violence in whatever form it presents itself is stopped!!
The Women Lawyers also called on all students to stand tall and speak their truth!