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Alleged sexual harassment: Victim’s absence stalls UNILAG investigation

Alleged sexual harassment: Victim’s absence stalls UNILAG investigation

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Chux Ohai

The fact-finding panel set up by the management of the University of Lagos to look into the alleged case of sexual harassment, involving a lecturer in the Department of English and Literary Studies, Prof. Segun Awonusi, and a female student, may have run into a hitch in its investigation.

The management, in a statement released on Monday, said the panel, comprising five senior professors, indicated in its report that the alleged victim, identified as Miss Joy Nwanna, had failed to substantiate her claim.

The statement reads in part, “The panel conducted its investigations and recently submitted its report. Preliminary findings indicate that the allegation of sexual harassment was not substantiated by the alleged victim or any other person.

The alleged victim was identified as Miss Joy Nwanna by Prof. Awonusi in the course of his interactions with the Panel.

“Student records of Miss Joy Nwanna reveal that she was admitted into the Department of English as a direct entry student in the 2012/2013 session. She graduated from the university in the 2015/2016 academic session.

“All attempts made by the panel to contact Miss Nwanna via the telephone numbers in her records and bye-mail proved abortive. The panel also attempted to contact Linda Ikeji to convince the alleged victim to come forward, but Ikeji was not forthcoming in that regard. The university requires the alleged victim to substantiate the allegations.”

The statement also noted that preliminary investigation in the case had raised certain questions and issues that needed to be investigated further. It added that investigation was still ongoing and the university authorities were making efforts to confirm the authenticity of the semi-nude photographs of Awonusi that were published in Linda Ikeji’s blog in May, 2018.

The university authorities appealed to Linda Ikeji to persuade her to appear before the panel and state her own side of the story, while giving the assurance that both parties would be duly protected.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, had warned that conclusive investigation into the case might not be possible if the alleged victim failed to show up.

Ogundipe, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, insisted that the supposed victim must appear to help the fact-finding panel to carry out proper, balanced and fair investigation. “If the lady does not come out, how will the investigation be concluded? You must not hear from one side alone; you must hear from the two sides and balance the information you have before taking decision and making recommendations,” he had said.

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