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Nigerian lawmakers pass bill to protect students from sexual harassment

Nigerian senators Tuesday passed a bill that will protect students from sexual harassment in the country’s tertiary institutions if signed into law.
The bill, which was sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (APC – Delta Central), was passed following the consideration of the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
“This is a very important and landmark legislation that this Ninth Senate has passed,” Senate President Ahmed Lawan said. “We have to protect our daughters from predators.”
“We want our tertiary institutions to be a very safe environment for everyone, and this is legislation that will ensure that wish.”
Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central), in his presentation said the piece of legislation “attracted unprecedented support from not only Distinguished Senators as demonstrated by the 106 senators that co-sponsored the bill but an overwhelming number of Nigerians who see the bill as a necessary legislative intervention that will bring sanity and good order to the educator-student relationship in our tertiary institutions.”
According to the lawmaker, “The bill is not targeted at a particular community – the educators and that it does not interfere with the autonomy of the universities – rather, it is intended to reposition and strengthen our tertiary educational institutions to maintain the core values of etiquette and excellence.”
He added that the passage of the bill will bridge the huge gap and give legal backing to any internal rule by educational institutions to check the incidences of sexual harassment.
Bamidele stated that contrary to ASUU’s claim that there are extant laws that can sufficiently address sexual harassment in tertiary institutions, the Committee found that there are no such laws.
“This legislation is meant to address the incidence of sexual harassment in tertiary institutions only, as there are other laws that address sexual offences in respect of persons under the age of 18 years such as the Child Rights Act 2003,” Bamidele said.
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