‘OAU not foot-dragging on sexual abuse scandal’

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife has denied an allegation that it is foot dragging in sanctioning a professor alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in his office.

This is contained in a statement by Abiodun Olarewaju, the Public Relations Officer of the University.

Olarewaju revealed that in the unwholesome incident that happened on March 18, 2022, Boluwatife Bababunmi of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages, wrote a petition to the University Management against a Professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics, Prof Joseph Opefeyitimi, of the same department, on the 21st of March, 2022.

A female student of Obafemi Awolowo University, Boluwatife Hannah Bababunmi had in a letter addressed to the Department of Linguistics and African Languages of the university, titled: “Report of sexual assault and molestation against Professor Ayo Opefeyitimi”.

According to her, the lecturer who is taking Yoruba incantations, and stylistics, sexually molested her during a visit to his office on March 18, 2022. She said the professor invited her to his office and as she was leaving, he grabbed her from behind and continued to grope her after which he exposed his already erect penis to rub her buttocks.

The Public Relations Officer of the institution affirmed that for the avoidance of doubt, the Management of Obafemi Awolowo University has never shielded and will not shield any staff or student found to have committed any sexual misconduct.

According to him, previous cases of this nature have not escaped the disciplinary measures of the University management.

In the statement, “Procedurally, after the receipt of the formal complaints, the first step was that the departmental committee sat on the matter and, after thorough investigation, Professor Opefeyitimi was found prima facie liable,

“Second stage was the Faculty level and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Niyi Okunoye referred the matter to the anti-sexual harassment committee of the university. The committee, which also sat and clinically deliberated on this same matter, recommended appropriate disciplinary actions against Professor Ayo Opefeyitimi to the university management.

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“Of course, the university administration would have to present its recommendations to the Governing Council which has the final say on the matter, considering the status of the staff involved, The Trumpet gathered.

“We want the general public to be rest assured and be reassured that the present university management does not condone sexual rascality of any form, under any guise against any member of the university community from anybody. We also pledge to continue to protect our students, particularly the female ones, against any sexual predator, no matter how highly placed.

“As a mark of its zero-tolerance for sexual harassment, the present university management had summarily dismissed three lecturers who had committed similar sexual offences.

“The first lecturer to be dismissed was from the Department of Management and Accounting while the second one was from the Department of English Language. The third one, who was given his letter of dismissal last month, was teaching in the Department of International Relations.” Olarewaju mentioned.

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