The recent alleged sexual harassment of female students by lecturers at the University of Lagos may only be a tip of the iceberg as more female students from tertiary institutions across the country have narrated their ugly experiences.
Young girls who spoke with our correspondents in different parts of the country explained how predatory old men working as a syndicate blackmailed and intimidated them into exchanging sex for grades.
A graduate of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Benin, who identified herself simply as Aisha, recalled how her project supervisor insisted that she must sit on his laps whenever she was in his office.
“Whenever I went to his office, he would ask me to sit on his laps. I did twice and he would hold me very close,” she said in Asaba.
She added: “My mind just told me not to resist him, as doing so would cause a lot of problems. And he would say, ‘You know I like you very much.’ I would reply, ‘Okay, I like you too.’
“I really did not know what to do. But I noticed that around that time, he had a sort of crisis: his car was snatched.
“One night, I dreamt that the car was still somewhere in Benin, and I told him so. I said, ‘I don’t really know why I dreamt about you, but your car is still in Benin, around the side that leads to Auchi. I told him the exact point.
“That was how I got a respite for some time. He stopped pressuring me.
“Later, I don’t know where the idea came from, but I just told him I had a child, and he was like, why didn’t I tell him? He said that where he came from, it was a taboo to sleep with women who have had children for someone else, whether married or not.
“In fact, I had to acknowledge in my project work that I had a daughter named Miriam and a fiancé called Azeez.
“I think he even asked some of my course mates to spy on me, because I was with a friend one day and one of them, Desmond, saw me with him and asked, ‘Is it the husband we don’t know about?’ Thank God that he coded and played along. I think he (lecturer) used that to validate my story.”
Asked if the lecturer actually proposed marriage to her, she said, “No, he didn’t really say that exactly. He wouldn’t give me attention.
“Instead of discussing the project, he would start saying, ‘You know I’ve been looking at you. Since 200 level, you’ve been dodging me.’”
Asked whether she would have succumbed to the lecturer if the idea of a child had not come to her, she said: “There was another girl (female student) because he was not forthcoming with her, she transferred to another lecturer. I would have done the same.
Aisha said that another graduate of UNIBEN claimed that a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics used to sleep with female students in his office.
“He would just ask the female student to lie on his desk and after sleeping with her, she would sign somewhere, and that would guarantee her passing the course.”
Aisha also claimed that a lecturer was caught sleeping with a pregnant woman and was subsequently dismissed because he had been under investigation for similar cases.
Another victim, Hajia (not real name), who graduated from the Faculty of Arts, University of Benin in 2013 shared her experience.
She alleged that a senior academic in a particular department made several amorous advances at her and other female students.
“It appeared the lecturers operated as a syndicate preying on female students,” she said.
“I was a course representative. Due to constant harassment, I tried to resign from the position.