A Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo has sentenced a former lecturer of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Richard Akindele, to two years in prison.
Justice Maurine Onyetenu sentenced Professor Akindele on Monday in Osun State, at the end of his trial for demanding sex in exchange for marks from one of his students, Miss Monica Osagie.
The accused had pleaded not guilty to the four charges of sexual harassment preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
He had since been remanded in prison custody following objection to his bail by the prosecution counsel.
He was arraigned before Justice Onyetenu on November 19 for alleged sexual harassment.
When the case came up today, Akindele opted to change his earlier plea and admitted guilty of the offences as charged.
Efforts by his counsel to suspend the sentencing and negotiate for plea bargain failed, as Justice Onyetenu frowned at the rampant cases of students’ harassment by lecturers.
“The plea bargain is not absolute. The court still has discretion,” stated Justice Onyetenu who spoke with emotion.
She added, “This kind of issue is too rampant in our tertiary institutions. We send children to school, they come home telling us that lecturers want to sleep with them.
“We cannot continue like this. Somebody has to be used as an example; even primary school pupils are complaining. Telling me to suspend sentence does not arise. Plea bargain does not arise. Maybe the case has continued to occur and reoccur because someone has not been used as an example.”
“It is time for the court to start upholding the right of the children, especially female students. The case is endemic,” the judge decried.
Counsel to the defendant, Mr Francis Omotosho, thereafter, informed the court that the defendant has lost his job and has learnt his lesson.
He told the judge that the University has discovered the mistake in the marking of the examination paper of the victim and has concluded plans to compensate her.
Omotohso also said plans were ongoing by the authorities of the institution to make offices of lecturers open by building the front side with glasses.
The judge who was apparently not convinced with the prayer of the defence counsel, however, said, “Do you think they do it in the office? They go to hotel.”
Counsel to the ICPC, Mr Shogunle Adenekan, then urged the court to confiscate the mobile phone of the defendant and forfeit it to the Federal Government, saying sensitive materials were discovered there during forensic.
He also asked the court to grant an order releasing the mobile phone of the victim, Monica.
After considering the plea bargaining entered and signed by both counsels, Justice Onyetenu said there was a need to deter other people because of the nature of the case.
In her judgement, she sentenced the convict to 24 months on count one, 24 months on count two, one year on count three, and one year on count four.
The judge stated that the jail term should run concurrently.
She also ordered that the victim’s phone be returned to her and the phone of the defendant should be forfeited to the Federal Government.