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EDITORIAL RESPONSE: Minister of Women Affairs Faces Criticism for Handling of Sexual Harassment Case

September 17, 2023

In the wake of the disturbing allegations of sexual harassment against Professor Cyril Osim Ndifon, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Calabar, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria has been quick to condemn not only the alleged perpetrator but also the actions of the Minister of Women Affairs, Barrister Uju Kennedy Ohanenye. FIDA’s condemnation raises a critical question: should we expect more from the very minister entrusted with safeguarding the rights and dignity of women?

FIDA’s scathing press statement, filled with outrage and disappointment, underscores a disconcerting reality. Instead of championing the cause of justice for the victims, the Minister’s actions have come under intense scrutiny and for good reason. Her response, or lack thereof, to this serious matter raises doubts about her commitment to the welfare of women in Nigeria.

The allegations of sexual harassment on university campuses are far from isolated incidents, and the Minister’s response ought to have conveyed an unambiguous message of zero tolerance. Yet, what we see is a glaring absence of the strong, unequivocal stance that such cases merit. FIDA is right to point out that sexual harassment not only violates human rights but also constitutes sexual victimization. Moreover, it’s been criminalized under Nigerian law.

FIDA’s pledge to closely monitor the investigation and any attempts to suppress justice speaks volumes about the concerns surrounding this case. It should serve as a wake-up call for the Minister and all those responsible for ensuring justice is served. The allegations of sexual harassment should be thoroughly investigated, and those found guilty must face the full force of the law, regardless of their status or position.

In conclusion, this incident highlights a disheartening paradox: a Minister of Women Affairs whose actions have not aligned with the principles she is supposed to uphold. In a nation striving for gender equality and the eradication of gender-based violence, it is crucial that those in positions of power act with utmost integrity and determination. The spotlight is now firmly on the Minister to demonstrate her unwavering commitment to the rights of women in Nigeria.

INewsZone Editorial

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