- More ‘victims’ recount ordeal with embattled Prof.
The sexual harassment scandal rocking the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, is yet to douse, as more damning revelations and verdicts have continued to emerge from, even the unusual quarters.
It is no longer news that the embattled Professor of Management and Accounting, a sexagenarian, Richard Akindele, who was accused by a female student, Ms Monica Osagie, of sexually harassing her in a damning audio recording that has gone viral on social media, has been suspended indefinitely by the Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede-led management of the institution.
But, a new twist to the sexual harassment allegation is that apart from the university’s lecturers’ unions, under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), declaring their support for the management’s decision, the unions have also distanced themselves from the embattled professor, claiming he is not their member.
Meanwhile, New Telegraph has exclusively gathered from more ex-students of the Accounting Department of the university’s faculty of Administration, who have narrated their ordeal in the hand of the Prof. Akindele either as just their course lecturer or as their project supervisor.
Some of the students, particularly the 2001 set who shared their experiences on the class’ WhatsApp group, said the lecturer was in the habit of threatening female students that they would fail his examination as a ploy to lure them into his ‘trap.’
They also said unlike other courses they took in the department, Akindele was in the habit of arranging separate seats for both male and female students during examinations.
According to one of the female students, who craved anonymity but whose matriculation number started with MAC/2001/****, the embattled lecturer, who she noted taught her Management Theories with Course Title MAC 201, had lied to her that she failed the course.
She explained; “You know this lecturer has a style of announcing the students’ results in his course. Unlike others who would paste the results by their doors, Akindele would ask us to report to the lobby of his office and ask each of the students to come in one by one.
“If you are a male, he would simply tell you your result in few seconds and you go. But if you are a female student he ‘likes,’ the simple thing is that he will tell you that you didn’t do well. He would just say “you scored F” without telling you the exact score.
“So when he told me that, I just went to my brother who was also a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences and when he asked him what happened, the man said my brother should tell me to come to him the following day. Then when I got there the following day, Akindele, just chastised me for reporting him to my brother. At the end of the day, I had an ‘A’ in the course.”
Similarly, another student who was a former students’ union leader on the campus, who graduated from the department in 2002, accused the lecturer of being notorious for such practice, which he described as embarrassing.
The source said; “In fact, I have a classmate who was married to another of our classmates but when she went back for MBA programme, the professor pestered her to the extent that the lady had to show him pregnancy before she could be freed from the pressure.”
It would be recalled that following the hues and cries that the incident generated, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, had in a statement on Thursday, last week, confirmed the indefinite suspension of the lecturer over his alleged complicity in the sexual harassment case.
The university’s decision, according to a statement released by its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Abiodun Olarewaju, had followed the preliminary report of an investigative panel set up to look into the matter by the vice-chancellor.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by ASUU and signed by its newly elected Chairman, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, the union said it was satisfied with the prompt response of the management towards ensuring sanity in the system.
“ASUU-OAU, therefore, encourages the Vice-Chancellor and his team not to relent in their efforts to get to the root of the matter and ensure that justice is done and seen to have been done in the matter. The union also admonishes its members to always adhere strictly to the code of conduct guiding their appointment in the university as they carry out their lawful activities,” the statement added.
When probed further on whether the union would refer the embattled lecturer to its Ethics and Grievances Committee for further investigation and action, Egbedokun told New Telegraph that Prof. Akindele had formally signed out of ASUU some months ago, and so is incapable in that wise of taking any action against him.
Also on its part, CONUA, through a short message to New Telegraph by its Chairman, Dr. Niyi Sunmonu, said: “Our position when the news broke was for the university to investigate and establish the veracity of the matter. That has not changed. We went further to state that culpability should be appropriately sanctioned. As for the membership of CONUA for the professor, as I write we’re yet to affect the check off dues of CONUA members. Thank you, sir.”
Meanwhile, the matter took yet another dramatic dimension at the weekend, when for the first time, the acclaimed victim, Ms Osagie, who had hitherto assumed anonymous status, unveiled herself to the public.
Ms Osagie, a postgraduate student of Master’s programme in Business Administration (MBA), who had spoken through her counsellor and Executive Director, Women Advocate Research and Documentation (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, accused the university of maligning her, saying she was never invited to appear before the committee set up to investigate the case.
But, the university in its statement said: “Although the Investigative Committee had invited both Prof. Richard I. Akindele and Miss Osagie, only Professor Akindele had appeared before the Committee, while Miss Osagie is yet to appear or make any representation. The report indicated that many other witnesses appeared before the Committee and gave useful evidence. The university is making efforts to ensure that Miss Osagie appears before the investigative committee so that it can hear her side of the case and promptly submit its final report.”
However, in a statement issued by Dr Akiyode-Afolabi, a former students’ union leader, said Ms Osagie was compelled to involve the third party, who in turn allegedly made the matter public since the student’s effort to use an internal mechanism to address the matter had failed.
Dr Akiyode-Afolabi wrote: “Contrary to the information coming from the university’s press release, Ms Monica Osagie was never invited by the school management to appear before any panel. We have been in contact with Ms Osagie and have her instructions to inform the management of her willingness to appear before any panel set up by the university, if and when duly invited.”
She added: “In this case in point, Ms Osagie made efforts to inform senior members of the Faculty of Administrations about her predicament and no one was able or willing to intervene leaving her to resort to self-help in documenting her evidence. This, once again brought into focus the need to strengthen regulations and complaint mechanisms in our institutions, so as not to expose students to unethical advances by randy lecturers.”
When New Telegraph called on the university’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Olarewaju to confirm if truly the acclaimed victim was not invited, he explained that only the committee members could confirm that, and that he would find out and get back to us. But as at the time of filing this report, he is yet to either confirm or deny the allegation.
However, by Sunday morning, a letter inviting Ms Osagie to appear before the panel today, April 24, had surreptitiously emerged from the office of the university’s Dean of Post Graduate College and signed by the University Deputy Registrar and Post Graduate College Secretary, Mrs A.O. Fadeyibi.
The letter with Ref. No: ADP 15/16/H/1424, entitled: “Re: Investigative panel on alleged harassment of a female student: Detailed audio recording: Request for the presentation of Miss Osagie Monica Oselode,” reads: “I write at the instance of the Provost, Post-Graduate College to invite you to appear before the investigative panel on alleged harassment of a female student detailed in audio recording at its meeting which will come up at 10:00am on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.
“Please be informed that on arrival, you are required to call the Secretary to the panel to facilitate your appearance before the panel. Thank you.” (New Telegraph)