From Lateef Dada, Osogbo
Authorities of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife, have debunked allegations that its foot-dragging in sanctioning a professor who was alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in his office.
A release by the Public Relations Officer of OAU, Abiodun Olanrewaju, made available to our correspondent on Wednesday, said the University has never shielded and will not shield any staff or student found to have committed any sexual misdemeanour, saying “previous cases of this nature have not evaded the disciplinary hammer of the University administration.”
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According to the University, the incident which occurred on the 18th of March, 2022, prompted Boluwatife Hannah Bababunmi of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages to write a petition to the University Management against Joseph Ayo Opefeyitimi, a professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics, of the same department, on the 21st of March, 2022.
“Procedurally, after the receipt of the formal complaints, the first step was that the departmental committee sat on the matter and, after a thorough investigation, Professor Opefeyitimi was found prima facie liable.
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“The second stage was at 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.
“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.
“We want the general public to 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.
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“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,” the statement added.