Africa

Professor caught seeking sexual favors in undercover sting at top African schools

By:LISA VIVES
Global Information Network

A year-long investigation into sexual harassment by professors at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana has produced evidence of a tolerated practice of “sex for grades” at the two top schools.

Shocking tapes of university profs brazenly propositioning young women who had come seeking admission to classes or financial aid showed their open defiance of the schools’ stated policy of zero-tolerance towards unwanted behavior of a sexual nature.

“Fine girls like you are always vulnerable,” aUniv. of Lagos prof was heard on tape, snickering at an undercover reporter.

In “Sex for grades”, journalists caught on tape the common practice of senior lecturers harassing, propositioning, and finally threatening with blackmail any non-compliant young woman.

Part of a BBC series called Africa Eye, the concept was developed by Kiki Mordi, a Nigerian radio program presenter and Merit Award winner for radio who admitted she herself had once been a victim.

“This thing has been going on for years,” one student is seen recounting angrily. “And every single year, every single department, every single student, it’s always the same story.”

“Nobody wants to listen, nobody wants to believe victims… and nobody is trying to do anything,” cries another exasperated young student.

Reporter Mordi reveals what happens behind closed doors at some of the region’s most prestigious universities.

The camera pans to Prof. Boniface Igbeneghu as he tells a young student hoping to enroll: “I’m in my 50s and this will shock you. Even at my age, if I want a girl of your age, 17 years, all I have to do is sweet talk her and put some money in her hand. I’ll get her.”

“Switch off this light and lock the door,” he orders the undercover reporter. “I’ll kiss you for a minute,” as he squirms excitedly on the office sofa.

A second meeting was arranged “for prayer.” “This prayer did not seem normal”, observed Mordi, as the teacher’s legs twitched rapidly. The professor then quizzed the young woman on her sex life, asking at what age did she start “knowing men.”

Later, he told her about the “cold room” – a secret place on campus where lecturers invite female students. There, he said, teachers “smooch them, touch their breast, touch up their body.”

“I can call you any day,” he warned her. “And if you don’t come, I’ll call and tell your mum that you are disobedient to me.”

At the University of Ghana, lecturers are forbidden from having sexual relations with students. But Dr Paul Kwame Butakor was so at ease on the student’s second visit that he asked if he could be her “side guy” (second boyfriend).

“I’m married,” he told her. “But my wife is not in the country.” He offered her a National Service work placement in his department even though the deadline for application had passed.

“Seriously,” he repeated. “Let me be your side man. I’ll not give you trouble.”

 All the cited professors have denied the serious allegations against them. The University of Lagos has suspended Dr. Igbeneghu, barred him from the school and shut down the staff club’s “Cold Room.”

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