The Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition Bill,
otherwise known as the Sexual Harassment Act is a welcome development
to the body of law in Nigeria. The Bill comes to rescue students in Nigerian
educational institutions who are victims of sexual harassment from preying
lecturers, teachers and educators who use their position to sexually exploit students. 

Many lecturers have failed
students for refusing to yield to sexual demands, others who are also
uncompromising are made to spend extra semesters in the school. The University
administrations have a large portion of the blame as most are seen to be paying
lip-service to fighting sexual harassment in their institutions. Students have
been known to resort to inviting their parents and guardians to plead with such
lecturers in a bid to find personal solutions to the issue.
The Bill defines Sexual
harassment to include –
(a)Sexual intercourse
between an educator and a student where the student is below the age of 18
years or is an imbecile or of generally low mental capacity or physically
(b) any unwelcome sexual
attention from an educator who knows or ought reasonably to know that such
attention is unwelcome to the student; or
(c) any unwelcome implicit
or explicit behaviour, suggestions, messages or remarks of a sexual nature that
have effect of offending, intimidating or humiliating the student or a related
person in circumstances which a reasonable person having regard to all the
circumstances would have anticipated that the student or such related person
would be offended, intimidated or humiliated;
(d)any implied or
expressed promise of reward by an educator to a student
or related person for complying with a
sexually oriented request or
demand; or
(e) any implied or
expressed threat of reprisal or actual reprisal from an educator to a student
or related person for refusal to comply with a sexually oriented request or
A lecturer is said to have
an had sexual intercourse with a student when there is a penetration of a
sexual nature of the vagina or anus or mouth of the student by the penis or
mouth or finger of the educator or any instrument or toy by the educator and
for this purpose, a male student can be sexually harassed by a female educator. 
Section 3 of the Bill recognizes
the existence of a relationship of authority, dependency and trust between an
educator and a student in an institution, breach of which is unlawful. A
student who alleges sexual harassment by an educator may commence and maintain
a civil action in Court for breach of this fiduciary duty.
According to Section 4 of
the Bill, an educator shall be guilty of committing an offence of sexual harassment
against a student if he/she –
has sexual intercourse with a student who is:
  (a)less than 18 years of age; or
  (b)an imbecile or of generally low mental
capacity; or
  (c)blind or deaf or otherwise physically
has sexual intercourse with a student or demands for sex from a student or a
prospective student as a condition to study in aninstitution; or Sexual
Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institutions Prohibition Bill, 2016 by
 (3) has sexual intercourse with a student or
demands for sex from a student or a prospective student as a condition to the
giving of a passing grade or the granting of honours and scholarships, or the payment
of stipend, allowance or other benefits, privileges or considerations; or
sex from or makes sexual advances towards a student when the sexual
solicitation or sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive
environment for the student; or
or induces another person to commit any act of sexual harassment under this
Act, or cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment by another person
without which it would not have been committed; or
hugs, rubs or strokes or touches or pinches the breasts or hair or lips or hips
or buttocks or any other sensual part of the body of a student; or
gives or sends by hand or courier or electronic or any other means naked or
sexually explicit pictures or videos or sex related objects to a student; or
or winks at a student or screams or exclaims or jokes or
sexually complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about  
In reporting the offence,
Section 7 of the Bill states that a complaint for the offence of sexual
harassment may be made by a student or by any other person to the Nigerian Police
or to the Attorney- General who shall take necessary measures to commence
criminal proceedings against the educator. 
Furthermore, as seen in
Section 8, any person who commits any of the acts specified above is guilty of
an offence and shall, on conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment of up to 5
years but not less than 2 years and there shall be no option of a fine.
An educational institution
can however still take action against such educator or lecturer as nothing shall
preclude an institution from proceeding via the internal administrative
discipline of staffs in related circumstances, provided that:
(a)Where criminal proceedings
under this Act have been commenced and pending in a Court in respect of a
complaint of sexual harassment, no disciplinary body in an institution shall
have the power to commence or to continue disciplinary proceedings in respect
of acts to which this Act relates.
(b)Where internal
disciplinary proceedings have been concluded and appropriate sanctions imposed,
such administrative or disciplinary sanctions shall not be a bar to prosecution
in a court under this Act for acts of sexual harassment.
(c)Where internal
administrative or disciplinary sanctions have been imposed before commencement
of criminal proceedings, a court, in passing sentence, shall have regard to the
sanctions already imposed on the educator.
An educator in the
institution in question or in another institution who victimizes a student in
respect of any complaint under this Act shall be liable to the same criminal
sanctions, disciplinary punishment or damages as the educator whom the student
originally complained against.
One shortfall of the Bill is its restriction to only tertiary institutions, such as public or
private tertiary or post-secondary educational institutions in Nigeria, such as
universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. Thereby, disregarding
students in secondary school institutions and even working environments.
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq. 
Adedunmade is the Principal
Partner of Adedunmade Onibokun & Co., a corporate commercial law firm
located in Lagos, Nigeria. He also publishes the Legalnaija blog, an
online platform dedicated to educating Nigerians on their legal rights and
obligations. He can be reached via