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Sex-for-Grades Scandals Rock Nigerian Universities: Students Fight Back with Mobile Phones

Sex-for-Grades Scandals Rock Nigerian Universities: Students Fight Back with Mobile Phones

May 11, 2024

On April 22nd, the perennial issue of “sex-for-grades” resurfaced as yet another case came to light, sparking outrage and renewed calls for accountability in Nigeria’s higher education sector.

A video posted on the platform X (formerly Twitter) depicted a disturbing scene: a young woman enduring unwanted sexual advances from a man presumed to be a lecturer. Filmed covertly from outside the window of the lecturer’s office, the video captured the distressing moment as the man persisted in his advances, touching the student inappropriately and whispering in her ear.

Although the University of Port Harcourt’s public relations officer, Dr. Sam Kpenu, discredited the video, students identified the lecturer and his department. Adding fuel to the fire, former student Jane Chidi took to Instagram, alleging similar experiences with the same lecturer, recounting how his advances had affected her academic journey.

But the scandal didn’t end there. On the same day, another video emerged, this time from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, showing a lecturer in his office in his underwear. The expose followed a lengthy investigation involving a student task force, campus security, and the victim’s spouse, leading to the indefinite suspension of the lecturer by the university.

These incidents shed light on the pervasive issue of sexual harassment in Nigerian universities. A 2023 study, ‘Sex for Grades in Nigerian Higher Institutions,’ revealed alarming statistics, with nearly half of respondents reporting experiences of sexual harassment, and over 20% stating that their grades were dependent on sexual favors.

However, amidst these troubling revelations, students are fighting back. The widespread use of smartphones among Africa’s youth has empowered students to capture evidence of misconduct by lecturers. This trend gained momentum following a 2019 BBC documentary exposing sex-for-grades activities at the University of Lagos, led by journalist Kiki Mordi.

Despite the risks involved, students have turned to clandestine recordings as a means of protection. One student, speaking on condition of anonymity, recounted how recordings helped expose a predatory lecturer, leading to his demotion and a shake-up in the department.

Yet, the fight against sexual harassment faces significant challenges. While many universities claim to have zero-tolerance policies, students report a lack of proper implementation. Some institutions lack documented policies altogether, leaving victims vulnerable and perpetrators unpunished.

Moreover, legal outcomes remain uncertain. While recordings provide crucial evidence, successful prosecutions are rare. A recent case in Rivers State University saw a lecturer acquitted due to a lack of admissible evidence.

Despite these obstacles, students remain undeterred. As they continue to document and expose misconduct, they call for greater accountability and systemic change within Nigeria’s universities, determined to reclaim their right to a safe and dignified education.

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