By Mark Orgu, News/Comments, February 18, 2020
|ABUJA-The Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, kicked started a public hearing on Sexual harassment yesterday at the Red chamber with various stakeholders ranging from the Human Rights Commission, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Women Advocacy groups, International Federation of women Lawyers, FIDA, Civil coalition societies, etc.|
The bill which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, drew encomiums across board as 105 senators backed the bill. The proposed legislation titled ” A bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Education Institutions and for other matters was given ultimate deliberations with counter arguments from ASUU while a second look and review of the bill would be better rather than look at parochial arguments
Meanwhile, in his opening remark on the bill is Senator Bamidele, who said that the bill has gone through 2nd crucial reading in 2019 for action, and consultations were also made. However, the bill – prohibit students’ harassment in Institutions, addressing sexual harassment and criminal related offences.
The chairman however noted that the public hearing is in line with the 9th Senate’s committee on judiciary, human rights and other legal matters, as the hearing resolved to offer opportunity for contributions-consider necessary and can stand the taste of time. “This bill has generated reactions in the floor of the Senate, Indeed, it is welcome development” he added.
Senator Bamidele further stressed that the hearing today (previous day) require dialogue and legislative engagement, which the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawn had earlier noted. There is no gain of saying that cases of harassment has not spread in schools, places of works, etc. However, the bill is targeted at High Institutions of learning, because Institutions have now been seen as a place of immorality-sex for marks, therefore, a stop to this menace is necessary, he reiterated. “As representatives of the people, opinions are needed for better implementation. We shall therefore collate opinions, subject them to index analysis, and come out with the best policy. Indeed, your contributions will be treated well. Our goal must be achieved”. He stressed.
Meanwhile, the Senate President was represented by Senator Abdullahi Abubakar Yahaya, Senate Majority leader, who said that he has earlier suggested that the bill should apply to both commercial and other Institutions across board. Noting the danger of Sexual harassment and its evil image on the country, as it is against human imagination. Lawan said that societies are better off when both young and old are respected. Sexual harassment is alien. He reiterated with emphasise why offenders must face their action and the law squarely, hinting that the menace take place in working environment, and even at homes, therefore law should be made against it-New restricted law must be enacted, and anyone can be a victim.
The Senate President said oppression of any kind is unacceptable in any Institution, even in places of work. Our conduct must be decent, we should therefore be optimistic that this bill would surely be passed, therefore, we should give no room for evil. “Our interest is to build a society where all are free. I therefore ask all to be polite and forth right in their suggestions. I am confident that it is a task, all of us must corporate to achieve, and we can handle it. I hope various presentations in this public hearing will help the Senate to come out with good policy that would curtail the situation.
In another development, all stakeholders supported the bill including ASUU, ASUP, as they remain sensitive to their contributions while others were of the view that the bill needs some better interpretations and modifications. They however extended their warm appreciation to Senator Omo-Agege for the bill, noting that it is long overdue.
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