The authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, have dismissed a senior lecturer at the Department of English, Adebayo Mosobalaje, for allegedly sexually harassing a former student of the institution.
This is coming barely two weeks after PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported an attempt by the university management to give Mr Mosobalaje softlanding based on the recommendations of the university’s senate to the governing council.
The university announced the lecturer’s dismissal through a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon by its public relations officer, Abiodun Olarewaju.
The statement reads in part: “In its avowed determination to rid the university of any form of sexual intimidation, harassment and, or coercion, the Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has dismissed another lecturer who was found guilty of sexual demeanor against a female student.”
The statement added that the “decision to dismiss Dr Adebayo Mosobalaje of the Department of English Language in the Faculty of Arts, was taken by the University Council at its last sitting that was held on Monday and Tuesday, September 6 and 7, 2021.”
“Having exhaustively deliberated on the report of the Joint Committee of Council and Senate, which investigated the case of sexual harassment against Dr Mosobalaje, the University Council, unambiguously declared its zero tolerance for sexual harassment in any form or guise and, accordingly, applied the appropriate university sanctions for such an offence as contained in the university regulation,” the statement added.
This newspaper had on August 25 reported the allegations against Mr Mosobalaje, who is popularly called “Mosob” on th campus, and how the institution’s Senate had attempted to circumvent the law by recommending lesser punishment for the indicted official.
The lecturer was specifically accused of breaching the provisions of the university’s Code of Conduct “in the manner he related with a student of the department, Rachel Momoh.”
A verdict passed by the university’s joint committee of council and senate noted that “in the process of its deliberations, the Committee FOUND Dr Mosobalaje culpable and was deserving of the highest punishment of dismissal.”
But in its recommendations, many feel the committee was lenient with the lecturer as his punishment included a warning letter, and forfeiture of cumulation of half of his salaries which have been continued to be held by the university since he was suspended.
The committee also said he should not be allowed to hold any management position on the campus for the next five years.
Also, he will not be promoted for two years.
These recommendations, which formed a subject of debate at the Senate meeting of the university three weeks ago, led to a division among members in attendance.
While some endorsed the recommendations, others queried the reasons behind the committee’s alleged inconsistency.
They asked why the committee allegedly ‘bent the rule’ when it already concluded that Mr Mosobalaje’s culpability “was deserving of the highest punishment of dismissal.”
Council overrules senate
In exercising its power as the supreme organ of the university, the university’s governing council under the chairmanship of businessman, Oscar Udoji, overruled the senate and opted for what many described as the deserving punishment for the lecturer.
The PREMIUM TIMES’ report on the matter which had earlier exposed the antics of some forces within and outside the university to bend the university’s rule was cited by many as part of the reasons for the governing council’s decision.
But the university in its statement claimed it also recently launched an anti-sexual harassment policy with the wives of the governors of Osun and Ekiti States, Kafayat Oyetola and Bisi Fayemi respectively in attendance.
A member of the university’s joint committee of the council and the senate which indicted Mr Mosobalaje in its report, Oluyemisi Obilade, was the keynote speaker at the event.
More accusers against Mosobalaje emerge
Meanwhile, following the report by PREMIUM TIMES, some former students of the university, who also accused the lecturer of sexually harassing them, narrated their ordeal.
One of the fresh accusers, a journalist, who craved anonymity, told our reporter how she was forced to invite her sister and mother to the school to plead with the alleged randy lecturer.
“Surprisingly, when my parents visited him, they discovered that he was somebody known to them and we thought everything was over.
“But soon after they left, he just told me that he knew my sister separately and knew my mother separately, and so he must know me separately by having an affair with me. I was shocked. I kept on getting poor grades in his course. I cried many times but I made sure he never had his way,” the victim narrated.
Another former student, who said she eventually dated Mr Mosobalaje out of fear, also narrated her ugly experience.
She said she even reported the matter to a counsellor on the campus but “I couldn’t pursue the case because everyone was telling me that I would regret my action if I did. I was very young then.”
The visitim, who also does not want to be named, said; “I was 16 years old when it happened. Dr Mosobolaje was taking literature and a few other lecturers. He noticed me and started asking me out. I didn’t even realise it was trouble yet until he found a way to include my name in his tutorial group.
“On a good day, my name shouldn’t be there because it was arranged alphabetically. My name starts with the letter “A”, so I was supposed to be in another lecturer’s group entirely. I confronted him- yes, I did. He told me he wasn’t aware that it might be a mistake somewhere.
“I knew that was a lie. It dawned on me that I was in big trouble if I refused. And coming from a home where I didn’t have an iota of exposure and boldness to talk, I relied on my friends for counsel. What do you expect them to say? We all dreaded these people.”
She said her friends told her that the lecturers would not say anything but that she would not pass their courses.
The former student added: “And of all courses to fail in English, Literature is the worst especially if the failure isn’t from you but a randy witch-hunting lecturer. So, at a point, I was tired and fed up. I got to know a guy who tried to encourage me to see the school counsellor. I did but had to discontinue the visit.
“From what the counselor said, I foresaw big trouble and got scared. If anything had happened then, I wouldn’t have graduated. These people know how they frustrate female students out of school. They are like a cult. You don’t get to win over them.
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”I’m glad steps are being taken now because during my time, the student in question is more in trouble than the randy lecturer. Do you know that if these people notice a particular guy around you all the time, that guy is also in trouble.”
Varsity vows zero-tolerance for sexual offences
But the university management has said it would not hesitate to wield the big stick whenever anyone flouts its laid-down rules and regulations.
“At several fora, the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, has reiterated the commitment of his administration to uphold the “Zero tolerance policy” for Sexual harassment and other social vices.
The Council of University Chaired by Mr Udoji has also pledged to support policies that promote mutual co-existence among all the members of the university community,” Olarewaju said in his statement.
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