Parents and female students of the Federal College of Forestry, in Plateau State, are raising alarm over what they described as “sexual harassment” by some lecturers of the institution.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that four lecturers from Science Laboratory Technology (SLT) and Computer Science departments have been suspended by the school authority following a complaint by a parent that her daughter was sexually abused.
The students and parents said although action has been taken on the recent incident by the school authority, the sexual harassment of female students by some lecturers of the institution had been happening in the school for many years.
The recent sex scandal by a lecturer of the school was exposed by a student in a post on social media, leading to widespread condemnation of the activities of some of the lecturers.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that following a complaint lodged by a parent and a concerned group to the school authority, a committee was set up to unravel the circumstances surrounding the alleged sexual abuse of students by the accused lecturers.
Our correspondent gathered that a good number of students were called before the committee to give testimony regarding the allegation. It was learnt pieces of evidence were made available against the accused persons with some of them said to implicating, leading to their suspension.
Since then, parents and groups have repeatedly called on the school authority to take drastic actions against whoever is found guilty, saying only that would serve as a deterrent to others.
The provost of the institution, Dr Ezra Anamai, confirmed the report of a complaint by a parent. He told our correspondent that various measures had been taken to tackle the accusations, adding that investigation into the matter had been on, while promising to leave no stone unturned in dealing with whoever was found guilty.
Students of the college, who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday on condition of anonymity, said some lecturers do approach them using different ways to sexually abuse them, in exchange for marks, adding that the actions of the lecturers always put them in dilemma as some have no choice than to submit themselves to the demands of such lecturers.
A student, Hannatu Bawa (not real name), said: “I was chatted up by a lecturer on Whatsapp. I don’t have his contact but I just saw a chat. I asked who was chatting me and he told me he was my lecturer. I will not tell you his name. From the conversation, I understood where he was heading to.”
Another student, Mami Musa (not real name), said “one day, a call came into my phone but the number was hidden. While communicating with the caller, I identified the person to be my lecturer even before he introduced himself. He is my lecturer. I did not know how he got my number. He said a lot of things to make me agree with him but I refused. He asked me to come to his office but I refused because I knew where he was heading to.”
Some students alleged that when a lecturer asks for sex and they refuse to cooperate, they were likely to have problem with their results.
A parent told Daily Trust Saturday that allegations of sexual abuse against lecturers of the institution have become rife. “A female student revealed to me that some lecturers would invite them to their offices and discuss all sorts of dirty things with them.
“Once they invite them to their offices, they collect their phones to avoid their discussions being recorded by the students. This is what they do. This is unfair to our children who are vulnerable. The school authority should do something and ensure that whoever is found guilty should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
In an earlier interview with the provost of the institution, he told our correspondent that so far, only one parent had approached the school with a complaint regarding the sexual harassment.
“Apart from one parent that reported the case to me, nobody else has come again.
“There have been several complaints about this issue but with my coming, an action has been taken. You people should be patient. The case is before a disciplinary committee. I cannot say anything now. You people should wait and see the action.
“I believe that the complaint is being taken care of. I want to encourage you to maintain your peace. Don’t publish any story because the case is being handled. Wait and see if action is not taken, then you can write your story. Government is aware of everything and an action is being taken. I am a man who doesn’t keep quiet over such issue,” he added.
However, after several weeks of waiting for a comprehensive report of the investigation as the provost promised, nothing has been done. He has also neither picked several calls nor responded to a text message by our correspondent.
This paper gathered that prior the coming of Dr Anamai, who assumed office early this year, there have been several complaints of sexual harassment by some lecturers of the institution.
A staff of the institution, who doesn’t want his name in print, told Daily Trust Saturday that in January this year, there was similar accusation of sexual harassment which led to the removal of the immediate past provost of the school, Dr Victoria Joshua, for alleged inaction on the matter, following an outcry by groups and individuals.
He said: “The recent incident of sexual scandal is not the first time. It has been happening. Parents always complain about the issue. Even the female students complain about the behaviour of some of our colleagues towards them.
“Anytime, I hear about this issue, I feel bad. I am not happy because it affects the integrity of the school and other innocent lecturers who are not happy with what is happening. This kind of scandal is making some parents to stop their children from coming to the school.
“I know of a girl who initially intended to enrol in the school but because of the news of sexual scandal making the rounds, she changed her mind and went to another school to avoid being a victim. The attitude of some of the lecturers is likely to force some students to leave the school,” the staff added.
Another staff of the school told our correspondent that the provost who once chaired a committee set up to investigate sexual scandal and other irregularities, such as collecting money from students for marks, did not do anything, and no action was taken against those accused lecturers till this moment.
The staff said “Before he became the provost, sometime around January, he was sent to lead a committee to investigate some irregularities, including sexual scandal. Evidences against the accused lecturers were tendered but nothing was done. It is high time government does something on the matter.”