The University of Lagos has shut down the “Cold Room” its Staff Club’s ‘slaughterhouse’ after the institution announced the suspension of the embattled lecturer of the Faculty of Arts, Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, over sexual harassment.
Igbeneghu was exposed in a documentary released by BBC Africa Eye on Monday.
In the documentary, the lecturer revealed to undercover journalist, Kiki Mordi, who posed as an admission seeker, the secret place where lecturers meet to “touch students breast” at the staff club of the university.
“They call the place cold room,” he said.
Reacting in a statement on Monday, the university’s Principal Assistant Registrar (Communication Unit), Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, said the institution was “embarrassed” by the situation.
The university promised to suspend any other lecturer of the institution mentioned in the full documentary which was released Monday evening.
“The University of Lagos Management today suspended Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts who was caught in a sting operation by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) titled ‘Sex for Grades’,” the statement read.
“The trending video chronicled cases of sexual harassment of female students by some lecturers in some West African Universities including University of Lagos.
“Management at its emergency meeting of October 7, 2019, suspended Dr. Igbeneghu from work immediately and barred him from the University academic areas while the suspension subsists unless invited by a Panel constituted by the University to investigate the matter.
“In addition to this, the University Management has ordered the shutdown of the Staff Club ‘Cold Room’ mentioned in the documentary for further investigation. 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 assures 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. 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: https://unilag.edu.ng/wp-content/uploads/SEXUAL-HARRASMENT-UNILAG-COMMUNICATION-UNITS.pdf Various Committees over time 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.
“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. As a reputable Institution and one of the foremost Universities in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, we are highly embarrassed by these allegations and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that this menace is checked in our institution.
“The University of Lagos is committed to providing a conducive and safe learning environment where future leaders are trained to take responsibilities for their action.”
Igbeneghu, who is also head pastor of a local Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria was asked to step down from all ministerial assignments until “the ongoing investigation is concluded”.