Here, the issue is not a ‘two fighting affair’ between an alleged ‘5 – Star’ Randy Professor and his female student ‘X’ but a very serious issue that touches on the integrity of the great and highly reputable university of OAU status.
So, trivializing and discarding the sensitive issue on the basis of the usual ‘escape route’ of legal technicalities because of the possibility of non – appearance of the lady will be missing the point.
Obafemi Awolowo University is a knowledge and learning citadel whose name has been dragged into the issue and the integrity of its certificates being questioned by implication.
So the university must do everything possible to regain its lofty height and its name clean and clear.
Another argument that the lady in the telephone conversation did not mention OAU is meaningless. That cannot be weighty enough to stop thorough investigation in as much as a professor in the university is known to bear such name in a department of the university.
Good enough that the university has set up a panel to look into the issue. What will not be good is for the panel to ‘discharge and acquit’ the alleged Prof. on the basis of non appearance of the student and non mentioning of OAU in the telephone conversation. Such tactic should be left for integrity deficient politicians who run from one court to the other to escape justice through the many escape routes provided by legal technicalities.
Since no nation grows above the development, academic morality and integrity of its University system, this bad issue should afford OAU a good opportunity to show great example in public morality by conducting a fair and free thorough investigation convince its community and the larger society of its zero tolerance for sex for marks academic practice. When this is done and the Prof. is not found guilty, all well and good.
The issue is simple to confirm in this digital age of science and technology.
Did the alleged Prof. Akindele have such telephone conversation with any of his female students? If he says Yes, then the issue becomes simpler, and necessary sanctions follow. If he says No, then, his call logs should be investigated and examined to determine the truthfulness or otherwise of his claim.
If he is found to be lying, then appropriate maximum penalty for him without fear or favour. And let him go to court where technicalities are entertained and on the basis of that, cases hung there till eternity.
In this wise, OAU should not and cannot afford such terrible moral indulgence because of its corporate name and credibility of its certificates.
Sexual harassments and allegations do happen everywhere, be it at the cathedral, in the mosques, in the presidency, national assembly, work places, homes and organisations, but while all these places can afford to treat such with levity, a university can’t afford to do so.
When I was the President of the OAU Students’ Union in 1988 / 89 session, two cases of sexual harassment were reported to me. One involving three ladies who were simultaneously being harassed by a notorious Casanova prof. and the other my ‘intending girlfriend’. All of them begged me not to allow the union to intervene because of possible backlash from further victimisation from other lecturers sympathetic to their alleged lecturers.
Few years after, I also met a female alumnus in Lagos who confessed to me that she had to change her course because a professor old enough to be her father demanded sex from her. That it was a fatherly Prof. a friend and a departmental colleague of the casanova teacher who incidentally was her father’s friend that advised her to change her course because all his appeal to the ‘sex for marks’ lecturer to spare her felt on the deaf ears of the sex desperate old teacher.
Not all lecturers engage in this kind of sex slavery but the very few ones who do are enough to stain the hard earned name and integrity of the ivory tower.
Hence all sexual harassment allegations, particularly ones with documentary evidence that can be easily verified, like the ‘sex for marks’ telephone conversation must be thoroughly investigated freely and fairly beyond technical jargons, an escape route provided by law.
Adeola Soetan is the Coordinator, Democracy Vanguard.
Opinions expressed in this article are solely of the writer’s and does not express the views of AN24.NET