Senate Proposes 14-Year Jail Term For Sexual Predators In Tertiary Institutions
If passed into law, the #SexForGrades lecturers just might be the first beneficiaries of the new law.
The Senate, on Wednesday, debated a bill which proposed jail terms up to 14 years. There's a minimum of 5 years, without an option of fine. This punishment is for any educator who is guilty of sexual harassment in schools. By schools, we specifically mean tertiary schools.
According to a statement from Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate. The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege sponsored the bill. As at the time of this report, the bill had scaled its second reading on the floor of the Senate.
The proposed bill is titled: “A Bill for an Act to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions and for other matters connected therewith 2019” It has 27 clauses.
The bill goes on to define sexual offenses as acts that include sexual intercourse with a student. Or demands for sex from a student or a prospective student. Or intimidating or creating a hostile environment for the student by soliciting for sex or making sexual advances.
The bill identifies some other forms of sexual harassment in schools. They are: grabbing; hugging; kissing; rubbing; stroking, touching; pinching the breasts or hair or lips or hips or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student; or sending by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student. It also includes whistling or winking at a student. Or screaming, exclaiming, joking or making sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique; or stalking a student.
Senator Omo-Agege, in his lead debate, said: “the most effective way to deal with the offense of sexual harassment in our tertiary institutions is to penalize the very impropriety of the act, with or without consent.”
According to him, universities need to define sexual harassment in schools as statutory rape. This is with strict liability so that offenders face the music on time. Some senators suggested extending the bill to primary, secondary schools, worship centres, and workplaces. But Omo-Agege said that would not be necessary. This is because the Criminal and Penal codes already clearly deal with these categories with sufficient clarity. He stressed that the bill prescribes expulsion for students who falsely accuse educators of sexual harassment.
He said: “An educator whose character is maligned is at liberty to sue for defamation under the law of defamation which is well-settled in our jurisprudence and needs no duplication in this bill.”
In another development, the Senate also considered and passed another bill for second reading. It's President Muhammadu Buhari’s Finance Bill, 2019.
The Leader of the Senate, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi led the debate on the bill. He said that the bill sought to promote fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation.
It also will reform domestic laws to align with the best global practices. Finally, the bill introduces tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets.
The essence of the bill is to support small businesses in line with ongoing reforms. These reforms affect the ease of doing business. Also, the bill will raise revenue for the government through various fiscal measures, including a proposal to increase the rate of Value Added Tax from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.
Abdullahi said that the Federal Government's additional revenues From the bill would be used to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes.
“It is absolutely essential to intensify the revenue generation efforts of this administration and its commitment to ensuring that the inconvenience associated with any fiscal policy adjustments is moderated such that the poor and the vulnerable, who are most at risk, do not bear the brunt of these reforms”, he said.
Other bills which scaled second reading on the floor are: A Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of the Federal University of Education, Kontagora, sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), and A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal College of Education, Illo, sponsored by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North).