On Wednesday, the management of Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, in Osun State, reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding members of the university’s community, particularly females, from sexual predators on campus.
It also dismissed claims that the university is attempting to protect a professor accused of allegedly sexually assaulting a student.
According to reports, Boluwatife Bababunmi of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages filed a complaint with the university stating that Joseph Opefeyitimi, a Professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics, had sexually abused her.
The institution, in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, denied any cover-up or delay in dealing with the subject, claiming that it has already fired three teachers for similar behaviour.
The statement reads: “The management of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, would like to debunk an unfounded allegation making the rounds in some quarters that it’s foot-dragging in sanctioning a professor, who was alleged to have sexually assaulted a female student in his office.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University have never shielded and will not shield any staff or student found to have committed any sexual misdemeanour.
“Previous cases of this nature have not evaded the disciplinary hammer of the University administration.
“The unwholesome incident, which happened on the 18th of March, 2022, prompted Boluwatife Bababunmi of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages to write a petition to the University Management against Joseph Opefeyitimi, a professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics, of the same department, on March 21, 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.
“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.
“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.”
We commend them for their action.