Lagos – Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, a former sub-dean in the Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos (UNILAG), and head pastor of Foursquare Gospel Church, has been suspended by the university.
The university authority also closed the Staff Club of the institution which, Dr. Igbeneghu disclosed in a BBC video, served as the point where he and his colleagues compromised female students. The Staff Club is also known as Cold Room.
The university, in a statement signed by Mrs. Taiwo Oloyede, Principal Assistant Registrar (Communication Unit), said the decision was reached at the end of an emergency meeting of October 7, 2019 where Dr. Igbeneghu was pronounced suspended from work immediately and barred from the university academic areas while the suspension subsists unless invited by a panel constituted by the university to investigate the matter.
In addition, Dr. Igbeneghu, whose name was on the lips of many students before the set up by the BBC, has also been reported suspended by Foursquare Gospel Church, where he worships, from all church activities pending the outcome of investigations into the matter.
The lecturer was exposed in a video by BBC Africa where an undercover journalist, Kiki Mordi, disguised as a 17-year-old admission seeker.
It reads: “The University of Lagos management today suspended Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu of the Department of European Languages and Integrated Studies, Faculty of Arts, who was caught in a sting operation by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) titled ‘Sex for Grades’.”
The trending video chronicled cases of sexual harassment of female students by some lecturers in some West African universities, including the University of Lagos.
The Cold Room was a functions room that was allegedly abused and used for illicit affairs.
The university assured members of the public that any other lecturer mentioned in the full version of the operation which was to be aired later today would also be suspended to ensure a proper investigation was carried out.
“The university is embarrassed and dissociates itself totally from this act(s) and any inappropriate behaviour of staff with female students and vice versa. The university has a well-articulated policy on sexual harassment, sexual and romantic relationships,” it said.
It added: “To ensure our students are aware of the various opportunities for reporting any form of sexual harassment or misconduct towards them, the university organises an orientation programme for all new entrants sensitising them of the university’s zero-tolerance policy and acquainting them with the mechanisms for reporting.”
The university has encouraged students who have evidence to come forward and assures them of their anonymity and safety.
It said: “As a reputable institution and one of the foremost universities in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, we are highly embarrassed by these allegations and we will do all that is necessary to ensure that this menace is checked in our institution.
“The University of Lagos is committed to providing a conducive and safe learning environment where future leaders are trained to take responsibilities for their action.”
Boniface Igbeneghu is a senior lecturer in French and Comparative Syntax at the university.
He was educated at St. Bernardine’s Grammar School and Olivet Baptist High School both in Oyo State for his primary and secondary education.
He holds a B.A. (Hons) French (Ibadan) 1982, M.A. French (Lagos) 1989; M.A. Linguistics (Ibadan) 1993; PhD, French Language & Comparative Syntax (Lagos) 2010.