ABUJA – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), says adequate mechanism has been in place to tackle cases of intimidation and harrassment of students in tertiary institutions.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of the association, made this known when he featured on News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Forum in Abuja on Sunday.
He was reacting to the rising cases of intimidation of students by lecturers in tertiary schools.
NAN reports that many university professors have been sacked over the unethical practices that usually involve the demand for sex or money, in exchange for marks.
Last week, the University of Abuja sacked four senior lecturers over similar misdeeds, while some lecturers in other universities have even been prosecuted and jailed.
Ogunyemi, who described the trend as “sad”, said that ASUU had set up an Ethics Committee in every university to ensure that its members did not go out of their bounds.
“ASUU has always been concerned with the conduct of our members and we have put in place mechanisms to ensure that our members don’t go out of their bounds.
“If you check our constitution, we have attached to it what we call `code of practice’. Our code of practice places a lot of emphasis on ethical issues.
“Some of these cases you have mentioned are part of the issues that we are trying to engage and interrogate.
“Contrary to what people say, we do our own internal cleansing, but we don’t see that as the primary issue for our existence. They are issues that just come along the line.
“ What we do basically is, where we have such cases, we do our own investigation, once we can establish a prima facie case, we hand them over to the universities.
“Some of the cases that you later hear about could have even been initiated by the union.’’
Ogunyemi added that the university system had its processes and once cases of intimidation and harassment occur, they are referred to the university disciplinary process who handle such cases.
He advised students to report cases of intimidation and harassment at the ASUU secretariat on the campuses.
“Once the matter gets to us, we shall track the erring lecturer or worker.
“We have our code of practice and anybody that runs foul of our code of practice will not be protected by the union.
“We have never protected anybody; what we always talk about is that any suspect should be taken through the due process.
“ASUU is part of staff disciplinary and professional conduct committee; our union is always represented on the disciplinary committee of every university.
“ If such information gets to our knowledge, we take up such cases and I will always encourage students to go to ASUU secretariat in their campus and see whether something will be done or not.
“In every campus, we have what we call student/staff relations committee and that is what we use to address the issue of sexual harassment, issues of extortion and the rest of them,’’ he said.
The ASUU boss added that every university had put in place counseling centres, and encouraged students to seek counseling at the various centres so as to get justice.