The University of Lagos has shut down the ‘Cold Room’, where lecturers allegedly sexually harass students.
This was disclosed by Taiwo Oloyede, the Principal Assistant Registrar (Communication Unit) of the university.
The ‘Cold Room’ was mentioned by a lecturer of the school, Boniface Igbeneghu, who was caught on video sexually harassing an undercover journalist who posed as an admission seeker.
Mr Igbeneghu, in the BBC undercover documentary, described the secret place where lecturers meet to “touch students’ breasts” at the staff club of the university.
”They call the place cold room,” he said. He then explained that female students must pay to have good grades.
“The so-called ‘Cold Room’ is a Functions Room that may have been abused because this is a deviation from the purpose for which it was created (meetings, seminars, events, etc),” the university spokesperson said.
Mrs Oloyede also confirmed an earlier report by PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Igbeneghu had been suspended.
She said Mr Igbeneghu was barred from the university’s academic areas while the suspension subsists ”unless invited by a panel constituted by the University to investigate the matter”.
Also, PREMIUM TIMES reported how his church, Foursquare Gospel Mission asked him to step down as a pastor.
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, Mrs Oloyede said the university management has ordered the shutdown of the “Cold Room” mentioned in the documentary for further investigation.
She assured members of the public that any other lecturer mentioned ”in the full version of the operation” which is to be aired later today, will also be suspended to ensure a proper investigation is carried out.
”The University is embarrassed and dissociates itself totally from this act(s) and any inappropriate behaviour of staff with female students and vice versa,” she said.
She said the university has a well-articulated “Policy on Sexual Harassment, Sexual and Romantic Relationships”.
”A copy of the University Sexual Harassment Policy was distributed to all members of staff and can also be obtained on the University website she said.
She said various committees have been set up to investigate reports received ”and those found guilty/culpable were sanctioned”.
“To ensure our students are aware of the various opportunities for reporting any form of sexual harassment or misconduct towards them, the University organises an orientation programme for all new entrants sensitising them of the University’s zero-tolerance policy and acquainting them with the mechanisms for reporting,” she said.
She said the University Counselling Centre, Medical Centre and Division of Students’ Affairs, amongst other organs, have been well-positioned to address complaints by students.
”These organs have cut off the bureaucracy limiting the effectiveness of the Policy, by the direct reporting system of these Centres to the Vice-Chancellor. The University encourages students who have evidence to come forward. They are assured of their anonymity and safety,” she said.
The BBC investigation is part of a broader one that uncovers the sex-for-grade crises in West African universities. A Ghanian lecturer was also exposed in another sex-scandal in the first documentary.
The Nigerian lecturer, Mr Igbeneghu, is a former sub-dean of Faculty of Art and head pastor of a local Foursquare Gospel Church.
Mr Igbeneghu had invited the ‘admission seeker’ to his office for ‘tutorials’ and at their first meeting asked: “how old are you?”.
In subsequent meetings, he gradually made efforts to get intimate with the undercover reporter.