The University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) has adopted a disciplinary committee report recommending the dismissal of a lecturer accused of raping a 17-year-old student, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The lecturer, Solomon Olowookere, will soon be informed of the decision, a source who asked not to be named because the decision had not been officially announced, said.
Mr Olowookere has denied wrongdoing. He told PREMIUM TIMES the allegation was “a lie” and that he “would never do such”.
But interviews with senior university officials, including with the head of Department of Arts Education, the dean of Faculty of Education and the dean of Students’ Affairs, confirmed the attack occurred.
The officials said Mr Olowookere had initially admitted assaulting the female student, blaming the devil and claiming it was consensual sex, before changing his testimony.
They said in assaulting the student, the lecturer also increased her test score as compensation.
The interviews, conducted by a panel set up by the university to review the case, formed the basis for a recommendation the lecturer be dismissed.
The panel held the lecturer guilty of four offences: showing the student her test score, altering the result, raping the girl and doing so in his office.
The report, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was submitted in April, but the university was yet to act two months after.
The vice-chancellor of the university, Sulyman Abdulkareem, earlier told PREMIUM TIMES he would prefer not to comment on the matter because it “was in court” already. He said the school would make its decision known later.
After PREMIUM TIMES published the story on Monday, a source in the school told the newspaper the university management met last week and agreed to fire the accused lecturer.
The source said the management was careful in announcing the decision to ensure it properly handled all aspects of the verdict before making it public.
The panel’s report sheds light on the challenge of rampant sexual harassment in Nigerian schools and how institutions struggle to check its occurrence or manage the fallouts.
In June, the Ekiti State University said it had questioned a lecturer after a video circulated on the internet showing the official trying to sleep with his student in return for high scores.
Between April and June 2018, three Nigerian universities – Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Lagos, and Lagos State University – faced similar scandals.
In the most widely reported case, the Obafemi Awolowo University sacked a professor, Richard Akindele, for demanding sex from a student, Monica Osagie, in exchange for marks.
Ms. Osagie released a secretly-recorded conversation with the lecturer, that was widely circulated on social media. Mr Akindele was sentenced in December 2018 to two years in prison, a rare prosecution success for a matter whose judicial prospect experts say is usually undermined by the inability to gather formidable evidence.
In the University of Ilorin’s case, the panel relied on interviews and a recording of Mr Olowookere’s admission of guilt.
The panel repeatedly interviewed Mr Olowookere and his accuser – whose name PREMIUM TIMES has decided to withhold since she might be stigmatised. It also interrogated two deans, the head of the department, two faculty professors, and the lecturer responsible for signing course forms.
In his denial before the committee, Mr Olowookere said his earlier offer to resign was not an admission of guilt. He said he acted on advice that men stood little chance of being believed in rape charges.
“They said some things that are almost true; that when an allegation of this nature is raised against a man, people would listen to the female; that I would be ridiculed and put to shame and honestly, the girl was given more attention than me,” he was quoted as saying.
The student insisted she did not make up the charge.
“For a case as delicate as this one, I don’t think anybody in his right frame of mind would want to punish somebody for what he did not do. He has wronged me in any way,” the report quoted her as saying.
“I have never met him before. I can’t just wake up and say I don’t not like this man. All of these things have been a lot for me. I was supposed to be in Abuja now by my father had to cancel all his appointments to enable me honour the invitation to appear before this committee. My family is under a lot of pressure.”