University of Calabar in Nigeria has taken swift action by suspending a senior professor in response to a protest led by female students who accused him of sexual harassment.
On a recent Monday, approximately 30 female students organized a demonstration on the campus grounds, located in the southern state of Cross River. They held up placards revealing disturbing allegations against the professor.
Cyril Ndifon, the accused professor, has not directly addressed the allegations in response to Blinkscoop inquiries. However, local newspapers have quoted him as refuting the accusations.
In his words, “These claims won’t hold. Some colleagues are deliberately trying to tarnish my reputation and bring me down. The key question is, ‘Where are the actual victims of sexual harassment?'” Ndifon conveyed this to the CrossRiverWatch news site.
Dr. Tony Eyang, the university’s dean of students’ affairs, informed the BBC that investigations were initiated immediately after the unexpected protest on Monday.
The university’s vice-chancellor, dissatisfied with Professor Ndifon’s written response, has relieved him of his position as the dean of the faculty of law and has suspended him.
The case has been forwarded to an official investigative panel for further scrutiny.
Instances of protests against sexual harassment are rare on Nigerian university campuses. One of the placards brandished during the protest read: “Stop invading our space. The faculty of law is not a place for exploitation.”
Notably, last year, the parliament enacted a law that categorizes sexual harassment by lecturers as a criminal offense, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
This legislation also eliminates mutual consent as a defense in cases of sexual harassment at universities.
These changes were prompted by a 2019 BBC investigation that uncovered allegations of sexual misconduct involving lecturers in Nigeria and Ghana.