Foursquare Gospel Church says Prof Boniface Igbeneghu should not remain a second longer on its pulpit after BBC documentary exposes acts of sexual harassment in Unilag.

The Foursquare Gospel Church has asked Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, Senior lecturer at the University of Lagos and one of the Pastors of a local branch of its church, to step down from the pulpit.

Prof Boniface Igbeneghu is one of a couple of lecturers caught soliciting sex for grades in a BBC documentary detailing sexual harassment on university campuses in Nigeria and Ghana.

In one instance, Boniface is seen praying with the undercover journalist before asking her to kiss him and threatening to make life miserable for her on campus if she fails to honour his subsequent invitations.

“The attention of the leadership of The Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria has been drawn to a video clip trending on social media platforms titled “Sex for grades: Undercover in West Africa Universities- BBC News,” the church said in a statement.   

“Wherein a lecturer in University of Lagos named Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu also described as a pastor in Foursquare Gospel Church was allegedly involved in sexual misconduct with some female students of the university.

“The general public is hereby informed that as a holiness and Bible-believing Church, we do not condone such heinous and unscriptural act among our ministers."

The church would go on to ask Pastor Boniface to vacate the altar with immediate effect.

“We totally dissociate ourselves from the purported conduct of Dr. Igbenoghu and promise to take appropriate measure as soon as the ongoing investigation is concluded. 

“Meanwhile, the pastor in question has been asked to step down from all ministerial assignments,'' the church concluded in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Rev. Ikechukwu Ugbaja.

Pulse has been trying to reach Boniface for a reaction to the allegation. However, calls repeatedly placed to his mobile have returned unanswered.

Unilag denies its own

In a related development, the University of Lagos has also washed its hands off Prof Boniface, according to the BBC.

“Unilag told us it dissociates itself from the alleged behavior of Dr. Boniface and that it has a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment. It did not comment on the so-called ‘Cold Room," the BBC said.

Sexual harassment on campuses in Nigeria has gone on for decades unchecked. In 2016, the Nigerian senate put together a bill aimed at criminalizing the pandemic. The bill sits pretty, unpassed, in the national assembly.

Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, says now is the time to dust the bill and grant it accelerated hearing and passage.

Former Senate President Saraki condemns sexual harassment on campuses (Senate)
Former Senate President Saraki condemns sexual harassment on campuses (Senate)

“As a father, I'm appalled by the actions of lecturers captured in the #SexForGrades exposé. We cannot allow this sort of deplorable behaviour to fester,” Saraki said in a series of tweets.

“In 2016, my colleagues and I in the 8th Senate passed the "Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill" to prescribe a 5 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 and President Buhari to revisit this bill so that we can implement the institutional reforms necessary to safeguard our children in educational institutions in the country.

“I also urge the institutions to conduct robust investigations, not only on the accused but also for all other reports and complaints that come in. We need to believe victims and make institutions safer for our students,” Saraki stated.

PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji  Atiku Abubakar, denounces sex for grades on campuses (AFP)
PDP Presidential candidate in the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, denounces sex for grades on campuses (AFP)

Former presidential candidate and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has also commented on the sordid tales contained in the documentary.

"I have just read the story on #SexForGrades across public tertiary institutions in many West African countries. This is unacceptable, and requires systemic strategies to put a 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," Atiku said.