niversities are known as Ivory Towers. This is for a reason. The towers used to be inhabited by people of not just the greatest academic accomplishments but of also moral rectitude. It was this that gave birth to the phrase ‘learning and character.’ But now the Ivory Towers have become refuge of the morally depraved, academic frauds and all sorts of misfits.
The BBC sex-for-grades investigation not long ago highlighted once again the decadence in the university system. In that shameful episode, lecturers of the University of Lagos, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu and Dr. Samuel Ladipo, were caught on videos that later went viral sexually harassing female students. In one of the videos released by the broadcasting organisation following its investigation into sex-for-grades escapades in the university, Dr. Igbeneghu was seen propositioning a BBC undercover reporter who posed as a 17-year-old admission seeker. He had invited the teenager to his office a number of times before delving into discussions of a very sexual nature with her.
The lecture also made reference to the school’s guest house which was cynically christened ‘cold room’ where lecturers take young students for activities of a sexual nature. The school authorities suspended both lecturers. The case of Igbeneghu was even more pathetic because he is a pastor of a well-known church. The church also relieved him of his pastoral duties in the meantime. It is clear from the videos that what has come to the fore is just a tip of the iceberg.
Before then, a lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Prof. Richard Akindele, was accused of sexual harassment of a female student, Monica Osagie, of the same institution. This case was so disgraceful and scandalous that the lecturer was not only dismissed from the employ of the university, he was equally sentenced to two years imprisonment by a competent court.
What is most worrisome in all these cases is that lecturers who are supposed to nurture and protect young and vulnerable female students have turned out to be their worst nightmares. Those who are supposed to groom young people to be responsible citizens in the future are themselves involved in all manner of misconducts. It is trite to also say that many students have had to spend extra years for refusal to accede to the amorous advances of lecturers in the past. Yet these are men who – by virtue of their high education – should know better; men who should be able to exercise restraint and control over their base impulses.
The outrage generated by these cases had scarcely died down when it emerged last week that the University of Abuja dismissed two professors and demoted two other lecturers for various misconducts. It would seem as if the university system keeps stumbling from one scandal to another.
A statement by the university’s Head of Information and Public Relations, Dr. Habib Yakoob, said that the university took the decision after considering reports and recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee it set up. Those dismissed are Prof. Adeniji Abiodun of the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Prof. Agaptus Orji of the Department of Science and Environmental Education, Faculty of Education.
The demoted lecturers are Dr. Robert Dajal of the Department of Science and Environmental Education, Faculty of Education and Mr. Gana Sunday of the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture.
Prof. Abiodun was not only dismissed for inappropriate relationship with a female student but also for falsification of academic records and the aiding and abetting of examination malpractices. Prof. Orji on his part was sent packing for falsification of academic records, aiding and abetting of examination malpractices and also for corruption and dishonesty. Dr Dajal was demoted by a rank, from Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer, while Mr Gana was demoted by two ranks, from Lecturer 1 to Assistant Lecturer, for their complicity in various acts of misconduct in the university.
Falsification of academic records, aiding examination malpractices, corruption and dishonesty are very weighty crimes by lecturers who are supposed to be custodians of good conduct and behaviour. It is incomprehensible that lecturers will engage in examination malpractices on behalf of students. What would have driven such lecturers to this level of infamy?
However, we want to commend University of Abuja not just for the action but for following due process in sending the two out of the university. But we also charge them to put the demoted teachers on constant surveillance so that they do not revert to their dubious and dishonest ways.
The institution restated its commitment to high moral standards and determination to take appropriate disciplinary measures against any act of misconduct perpetrated by its staff or students, in the interest of justice and educational development.
We commend the varsity and urge it not to relent in its effort to rid the school of those who are unfit to be found in the university system let alone be lecturers. It won’t be out of place to believe that there are still others within the university, so the school management must be on the alert at all times to fish out these people and exclude them from the system.