ICPC says Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions is Condemned as Corruption. In a firm stance against sexual harassment, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has labelled such acts as corrupt practices, emphasizing that offenders could face imprisonment terms not less than seven years.

The warning was issued by Mr. Clifford Oparaodu, the Secretary to the commission, during a One Day Sensitization Workshop on Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Institutions held in Abuja.

Oparaodu underscored that the ICPC considered sexual harassment a form of corruption, highlighting the need for victims to be aware of their rights and avenues for seeking justice. He expressed concern over the disturbing trend of sexual gratification becoming a form of “illegal tender” in many educational institutions.

He stressed that it was inappropriate for officials to misuse their positions to demand or receive any form of sexual gratification for the performance of their duties. Quoting sections of the ICPC Act, he clarified that any person corruptly obtaining property or benefits through such means could face a seven-year jail term.

The Secretary to the commission lamented that staff members had been found leveraging their positions to demand sexual favors from both staff and students in exchange for favorable treatment, including good grades.

He acknowledged the prevalence of silence among victims due to fear of stigmatization or further victimization, leading to compliance to avoid dire consequences.

Highlighting the ICPC’s commitment to eradicating this culture of silence and preventing sexual harassment, Oparaodu discussed the formation of the Sexual Harassment Unit specifically aimed at preventing such misconduct in educational institutions.

The workshop focused on educating students on how to report incidents of sexual harassment to the ICPC and collect evidence that could support investigations. A paper presented by Mr. Adenekan Shogunle, the Deputy Director of the Proceed of Crime Department, urged participants to consider this fight against sexual harassment as a collective responsibility.

Addressing the psychological implications of sexual harassment, Mrs. Peace Aroch, the Assistant Director of the Legal Unit at ICPC, emphasized the emotional toll on survivors, including stress, anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Aroch emphasized the need for workplaces, both public and private sectors, to establish sexual harassment policies, suggesting the utilization of ICPC’s policy as a model. Sarah Egbo, Policy Lead Gender at Mobile Initiative, advocated for institutional commitment and collaboration with various stakeholders for a coordinated response to combat sexual harassment.