9 April 2018

Nigeria: Top Nigerian University, OAU, Enmeshed in Sex-for-Mark Scandal

Photo: Premium Times
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)

The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is ensnared in public attention after a leaked phone recording showed a lecturer seeking sex from a female student for a pass in an examination.

In the audio, which leaked on Monday, the student repeatedly addressed the other person in the conversation as 'Prof. Akindele', who, later, protested: 'stop calling my name!'

Several students and staff told PREMIUM TIMES that the male voice was that of Richard Akinola, a professor in the management and accounting department of the faculty of administration at OAU. We also gathered that lady is a final-year student, who failed a course thought by Mr Akinola. Several efforts to get the lecturer's reaction were unsuccessful on Monday. He was not on sit at the different times our correspondent went to his office.

A senior academic staff in the accounting department, who volunteered to speak without being named, told our correspondent that Mr Akinola was "caught three years ago" for engaging in the sex-for-mark practice, a common problem in Nigerian universities.

"Every Nigerian adult, who is not a liar, who schooled in Nigeria, knows a Nigerian girl that was hassled for sex over marks/not failing a course in Nigerian public universities," commented Japhet Omojuwa, one the social media users demanding authorities act to deter others.

The leaked conversation suggests the student had refused the lecturer's initial sex demand to upgrade her. But then, she called later to seek the lecturer's assurance she would be passed once sexual intercourse happened between them. The lecturer said after sleeping with her "I will do it in your presence." Yet, there was no agreement again because the lecturer said he would sleep with the student for five different days, a condition the student rejected.

It appeared, in the audio, that the student deliberately called the lecturer again, after initial refusal, to play along, record him and have hard evidence against her harasser.

The following dialogue occurred in the audio

Student: Hello Sir, Professor Akindele, yesterday you said something but because I was close to my boyfriend I could not say anything. You said you've submitted it

Lecturer: I gave you an opportunity and you missed it. Forget about it. You will do it next year.

Student: I was calling to confirm whether you were serious about it.

Lecturer: Me that agreed to do something. I know what I meant. If you don't trust me, forget about it. If I wouldn't do it, why should I give you audience in the first place? If I am not interested in doing it, I won't give you audience in the first instance. The other person has come and I told her straight away because there is nothing I can do to bail that person out and her mark is even better than your own. The person scored 39 while your own is 33. Only two people failed the cause so what else do you want me to do. You can see it anytime you come, we are at Moro doing exam, we are doing MBA executive exam. They are just starting. I will finish by 4:30 and maybe 5, I should be in the office. If you are ready, come by 5:00. Why do you tell me you were on my period the other time.

Student: I was really seeing my period Professor Akindele.

Lecturer: Stop mentioning my name. And now nko?.

Student: I am not on my period now.

Lecturer: Your boyfriend has done it yesterday?

Student: Is it every time that someone will be doing with the boyfriend? Is it every time you do it with your wife?

Lecturer: Yes

Student: It's a lie, not possible. So what's the plan now?

Lecturer: Let's have the first one today and then we will do another one tomorrow. Is our agreement not five times?

Student: Is it B that you want to give me or C? Why would it be five times you will knack me?

Lecturer: That's what I will do.

Student: Prof, you know what? Let me fail it. I can't do it five times. For what nah? No worry. Thank you, sir

Lecturer: You are welcome.

When contacted, the spokesperson for OAU told our correspondent the management already knew about the scandal.

"The university is aware and we are setting up machinery to critically look at the issue to determine the veracity otherwise there won't be conclusion," said the spokesperson, Abiodun Olanrewaju.

The trust in Nigerian universities to deal with sexual harassment is low and OAU, this time, will have to act decisively to raise public trust. Many Nigerians monitored on social media believe predatory lecturers, even when exposed, are left unpunished, thereby increasing the rate at which lecturers sexually abuse female students.

Commenting, Remi Sonaiya, OAU retired professor and former presidential aspirant, said: "Terrible! Unfortunately, many universities don't have strong deterrence or punishment for abusers. Students should be encouraged to speak out when such things happen. There must be at least someone in the institution who can be trusted and confided in. Justice must be done.

"The good thing about such cases becoming public is that it will force the institutions to address them more seriously - if only to protect their name. Sadly, our universities have not dealt seriously with the issue of sexual harassment."

An investigative report by PREMIUM TIMES in 2015 showed Nigerian universities, including foremost ones like the University of Lagos, are not doing enough to discourage sexual harassment of female students by their lecturers. In the report, many students interviewed admitted not having confidence in the system - school authorities - to protect them against lecturers with a fondness for sexual harassment.

A Twitter user, then, suggested an independent ombudsman to deal with issues of sexual abuses in Nigerian schools.

"If reliance is placed on universities to get rid of sexual harassment, nothing will ever happen. There needs to be an ombudsman for the tertiary education sector with people from private sector sitting on sexual complaints committees," the user tweeted via @Mofe_To.

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