The University of Lagos, Akoka, has suspended Dr Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, after he was filmed making sexual advances to an ‘admission seeker’.
Igbeneghu, a pastor with the Foursquare Gospel Church, was also suspended by the church over the footage, which went viral on the social media on Monday.
The associate professor was caught on tape after a reporter with the British Broadcasting Corporation posed as a prospective student of UNILAG.
The reporter had sought his help to facilitate her admission.
According to the footage, Igbeneghu, a former sub-dean in the faculty, invited the undercover reporter for tutorials several times.
When she eventually honoured the invitation, he asked for her age and she said 17.
He subsequently complimented her looks, saying she was beautiful.
“Do you know that I am a pastor and I’m in my 50s? What will shock you is that even at my age now, if I want a girl of your age – a 17-year-old, all I need is to sweet-tongue her and put some money in her hands and I’ll get her,” he said.
Igbeneghu later prayed with the ‘admission seeker’, while leading her into the ‘kingdom of God.’
In the 13-minute clip, he told her about a ‘cold room’ at the UNILAG Senior Staff Club, where he said lecturers usually slept with female students to give them undeserved marks.
During their final meeting, the lecturer said the ‘student’ must be obedient if she really wanted admission into the school.
“Do you want me to kiss you? Switch off the light, lock the door and I will kiss you for a minute. That’s what they do in the cold room,” he said.
He drew closer to her and was about to abuse the ‘admission seeker’ when she asked for permission to use the toilet.
When she came out, the lecturer smiled and said he had only shown her what happened in the ‘cold room’.
The sting operation also covered other lecturers at the University of Ghana, Legon.
When contacted by correspondent, Igbeneghu said he could not be pressured into reacting to the allegations and referred our correspondent to the university management.
The Principal Assistant Registrar, Communication Unit, UNILAG, Taiwo Oloyede, said in a statement that the management at an emergency meeting on Monday suspended Igbeneghu from work “immediately” and barred him from the academic areas.
Oloyede noted that the embattled lecturer remained barred from the school unless invited by a panel constituted by the university to investigate his case.
She stated, “In addition to this, the university management has ordered the shutdown of the staff club’s ‘cold room’ mentioned in the documentary for further investigation.
“The so-called ‘cold room’ is a functions room that may have been abused, because this is a deviation from the purpose for which it was created (meetings, seminars, events, etc.).
“The university assures members of the public that any other lecturer mentioned in the full version of the operation (documentary), which is to be aired later today (Monday), will also be suspended to ensure that a proper investigation is carried out.”
The spokesperson said UNILAG was embarrassed by the incident and dissociated itself from the inappropriate behaviour of staff with female students.
She said students, who had evidence of abuse, should step forward and assured them that their identities would be protected.
A check on Igbeneghu’s social media profile revealed that he was ordained a pastor of the Foursquare Gospel Church on April 21, 2018, while his wife was made a pastor four months ago.
He had celebrated both occasions on Facebook.
Many angry Nigerians besieged his page to call him out over the documentary.
In a statement on Monday, the Foursquare Gospel Church said it had also suspended the lecturer.
The National Secretary of the church, Ikechukwu Ugbaja, dissociated the church from Igbeneghu’s conduct, adding that appropriate measures would be taken against him.
He said, “The general public is hereby informed that as a holiness and Bible-believing church, we do not condone such heinous and unscriptural acts among our ministers. We totally dissociate ourselves from the purported conduct of Dr Igbeneghu and promise to take appropriate measures as soon as the ongoing investigation is concluded.
“Meanwhile, the pastor in question has been asked to step down from all ministerial assignments.”
The documentary also generated reactions from many Nigerians on the social media, as many condemned the high rate of sex-for-grades in higher institutions in the country.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, said the act was unacceptable and required systemic strategies to put deterrence to such behaviour.
“As a society, we cannot allow a trend that is psychologically abusive to young women to thrive. In fact, that’s a direct opposite of what a sound educational system represents,” he tweeted.
A former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, asked the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit a bill passed by the 8th Senate on the matter.
He tweeted, “In 2016, my colleagues and I in the 8th Senate passed the ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions Prohibition Bill’ to prescribe a five-year jail term for any lecturer, educationist or person in a position of authority in any tertiary institution in Nigeria found guilty of such conduct.
“I appeal to the 9th Senate & President @MBuhari to revisit this bill so that we can implement the institutional reforms necessary to safeguard our children in educational institutions in the country.”