To curb alleged increase in the rate of sexual harassment of students by lecturers, authorities of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, have planned to launch Operation speak out aimed at giving the victims the opportunity to expose the culprits.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Charles Esimone, who addressed select journalists in Awka, also explained that the institution has planned a Close Circuit Television, CCTV, project, which will be executed in phases, as part of efforts to curb the vice.
He said: “It is good to stir up people because when you see that some people are being so careless about some of these key issues, especially what happens in the classrooms, concerning sexual harassment, extortion and what they call sorting to pass exams, you have to do something. “We are starting with the classrooms and from classrooms we move to offices. We are still deliberating on that of offices as those opposed to the policy have given their reasons why CCTV should not be installed in their offices, even though I told them that office is not a private apartment of anybody. “However, some people have given one or two reasons and we will look into those reasons as we don’t want to heat up the system because of that. We will sit down again and look at their reasons.
“This issue is not just between staff and students; it is also among the students themselves, which is why we started with the classrooms which will soon be completed.
” For the offices, we will table it before the Senate, but we are not happy with the social media comments on the issue, which is why the university administration needed to do something to show that we are not tolerating it.
“I wouldn’t like to impose anything on them and so, we will sit down and talk. They also need to understand that we are not happy with the social media reports about the university”.
On the ‘operation speak out’, which would soon be launched, Esimone said it is necessary because most students are afraid that the lecturers might victimize them more if they talk.
He added: “We have held a town hall meeting with the students and the Students Union Government in the university. We encourage and ask them to speak out if they are oppressed. “Majority of the students are afraid of speaking out because some of the lectures are threatening them.
Some of the students have spoken out and I have set up a committee to investigate those named.
“If any of them is found guilty, at least we will start from there. We have five or six cases of harassment, which we are investigating. I have told the students that what we are doing is to protect them and I assured them that nobody will harass them under my administration and go free.
“All along, this has been happening, only that students don’t come out to speak about it. I have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
“Even in my faculty, the faculty of pharmacy, I sacked one of my boys. I brought him into the university from a company and nobody believed I could sack him. He did not even believe I could sack him. Everybody knew he was my boy.
“We followed due process, investigated him and we found him guilty and I had to sack him. If you like be my brother, my wife or anybody, once you are found in that position, you are gone.
“I told the students that they should be rest assured that if they give information it must be followed to a logical conclusion.
“Once any person’s name is dropped in any of these issues, he will be investigated and if found guilty, the person will go.
“I also encourage the students to come forward and give evidence because without evidence we cannot do anything. I told them not to be afraid of giving evidence because the university will protect them. We are embarking on total cleansing of the university.”