Mukhtar Yahya Usman
Imagine this for a moment.
Your wife had a miscarriage and died in the process.
While mourning, her phone kept receiving condolence messages from her friends and associates.
As a dutiful husband you read and reply to the messages.
As you browse through her previous chats you become intrigued by a particular conversation with someone named “Sir”.
Reading backward, you gradually come to realize that your wife died of a forced abortion not miscarriage as you thought.
Her reason? She wasn’t carrying your baby. She had been having sex with one of her lecturers who promised to help her pass all her examinations!
Now stop imagining.
This is a true story. It happened at one of the universities based in Kano. The lecturer has been dismissed but the student is dead and her bereaved husband is left to wonder whether her other children are really his offspring.
This is just a single incident of sexual harassment. It may not always lead to death but involves risks of carry-over, spill-over or even expulsion to non-complying students.
“For students to be confident enough to report sexual harassment “the grievance mechanism must be confidential, swift, with minimum errors and must be clearly defined and widely understood”
An investigation by KANO TODAY finds that majority of students being sexually harassed by their lecturers in Kano do not report to authorities, which makes the practice to continue.
According to experts the main reason is that tertiary institutions in Kano do not have clearly-defined, safe, and widely understood complaint mechanisms.
In a recent lecture, Isma’ila Zango, a Professor of Sociology and Director Aminu Kano Centre for Democratic Research and Training (Mambayya House), Bayero University Kano said about 70% of female students in Nigerian tertiary institutions experience a form of sexual harassment.
However, Professor Zango said only about 3% of the victims complain to authorities.
“For students to be confident enough to report sexual harassment “the grievance mechanism must be confidential, swift, with minimum errors and must be clearly defined and widely understood”. He said.
An in-depth analysis of the students’ handbooks issued by Bayero University Kano (BUK), Kano University of Science and Technology Wudil (KUST), Yusuf Maitama Sule University Kano (YUMSUK), as well as Kano State Polytechnic shows that students are not given clear guidance on what to do when they are sexually harassed.
Only YUMSUK has a reference to sexual harassment in its students’ handbook.
In page 115, the university categorized misconduct into three; gross misconduct, major misconduct, and minor misconduct.
Under the category called major misconduct, sexual harassment is mentioned along with “mishandling university property, mutilation and defacing of any library or university book as well as fighting”.
However the penalty for these offences is ‘rustication from the University for Two years’ showing that this statement refers to students who harass other students sexually.
If these institutions are not willing to acknowledge even the possibility of lecturers harassing students in their handbooks are they subtly condoning the practice?
Not so, says the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), BUK, Professor Adamu Tanko.
Professor Tanko said even though there are punishments for lecturers who harass students, it is unfair to state that in a handbook written for students.
He said over the years BUK has dismissed or terminated the appointment of several lecturers and non-academic staff who had harassed their students sexually.
“BUK has a strong committee that investigates allegations of sexual harassment.” He said.
“Any student who is sexually intimidated or violated should report to her Head of Department who will channel the case to the committee”. He added.
He however cautioned that the student must have genuine evidence at hand.
Like BUK, authorities in YUMSUK say they also have a committee handling cases of sexual harassment.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Mustapha Ahmad Isa told KANO TODAY that complaining students should first report to their Heads of Department.
Thereafter the matter will be handled at several levels up to the governing council, he said.
He urged female students to confidently report any case of sexual harassment without fear of any possible backlash.
At KUST, Vice Chancellor Professor Shehu Alhaji Musa says the university has never recorded a single case of sexual harassment.
Professor Musa said the university too has a committee that is ready to deal with any case of sexual harassment should such an incident happen.
He however assured KANO TODAY that KUST is reviewing its policies and will insert a clearly-defined guideline on sexual harassment in the students’ handbook.
Deputy Registrar Kano State Polytechnic, Garba Ismaila told KANO TODAY that the institution has regulations preventing personal relations between students and lecturers in order to avoid sexual harassment.
Kano state Polytechnic consists of five schools including School of Technology Kano, School of Management Studies Kano, School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Development Rano, School of Environmental Studies Gwarzo, and School of General Studies Kano.
Mr. Ismaila said the Polytechnic has dismissed three lecturers recently and is ready to punish any staff that is engaged in sexual harassment in the future.
He explained that even though sexual harassment is not mentioned in the students handbook, it is one of the topics discussed during matriculation and orientation exercises in the Polytechnic.
The fear is real
However, Professor Zango, who is also a former Dean of Students Affairs at BUK says students have real reasons to fear reporting cases of sexual harassment.
First, there is a danger that the student may not have enough evidence to prove her allegation. This may allow the lecturer to go free and enable him and his friends to wage a vendetta against the student.
Also, the student’s family may caution her against reporting in order not to spoil her chances of marriage if it becomes public knowledge that she has been assaulted sexually.
And in some cases it is the student who finds herself unable or unwilling to study and pass her examinations that tries to seduce the lecturer into a contract of sex for marks.
Professor Zango therefore urged universities and other tertiary institutions to make laws that will empower students to deal with predatory lecturers.
At the same time the law should have a section where lecturers can report students who attempt to seduce them.
Malam Ladi–Kano village grumbles over lack of water, clinic
By Mukhtar Yahya Usman
Sabon Garin Malam Ladi, is a small farming community in Minjibir local government area of Kano state that has been living without portable water for decades.
Kano Focus, which visited the community recently, discovered that residents and animals drink from a single dirty pond that is located at the centre of the village.
It was observed that the residents also use the same pond water to clean themselves after toilet, bath and do laundry.
As a result of this, the villagers often find themselves struggling with various infections and sicknesses, which are made worse by lack of a health facility, where they can seek treatment.
The residents told our correspondent that, most of the time, they had to transport patients to a hospital in Minjibir town several kilometers from the village, adding that many had died before they could reach the hospital.
Other problems besetting Malam Ladi are lack of electricity and insufficient classroom blocks, a situation that compels pupils to take lessons in open air under the trees.
A resident Murtala Lawal, told Kano Focus said nobody in the village is happy to receive relatives or other guests from the city because they don’t even have good drinking water to give them.
“If we received a guest in our village, the main problem we are facing is that, we don’t know what kind of water we would give them to quench their thirst.
“As you can see, the water from this pond is the one we use to cook our food, give our animals, and our guests. You can see that people are fetching the water while children are swimming in it,” he said.
Another resident, Kande Ali, said despite efforts of the community in raising alarm, the challenges they face still persist.
“Last year we complaint to the government about the water problem but they did take any action, our children get sick almost all the time and they can’t even get treated here until we transport them to Minjibir town, despite the bad road and distance,” she said.
“The only benefit we get from the government is the polio vaccine, we get that regularly” Kande added.
On his part, Alhassan Isa, the ward head of Malam Ladi village told Kano Focus that despite several complaints to authorities, the situation in the community remains unchanged.
When contacted, Nasiru Gabra Kunya, chairman of Minjibir local government council told Kano Focus that he had sent technicians to fix the broken-down boreholes in the village so people can access portable water.
He said the local government is planning to build a health care facility in a neighbouring village so that residents of Malam Ladi can access healthcare easily.
Mr Kunya also promised to improve the quality of schools in the village and provide instructional materials.
How renewed KAROTA fury hurts Kano road users
By Mukhtar Yahya Usman
On 8 September, 2019, just like any ordinary day, Yusuf Baba had left his pregnant wife and five children at home.
As he rode on his motorcycle on his way to the Kano Sports Commission along Club Road in Nasarawa local government area of Kano state, where he served as a weightlifting coach, it never crossed his mind that it was his last day on earth.
Mr Baba was just a few meters to his destination when, without warning, a dark blue Volkswagen saloon car, swerved to his side of the road on top speed and crushed him to death.
An eyewitness told Kano Focus that the commercial vehicle, with registration number KTG 174 AA, had the accident due to a nasty struggle for control of its steering wheel between its driver and a personnel of the Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA), who was determined to stop the driver from fleeing.
This was how Mr Baba’s wife, Zainab was widowed and his five children orphaned in one of the several reckless confrontations between overzealous KAROTA officers and road users that often disregard traffic rules.
It was one death too many for the family as Mr Baba left behind a mentally disabled son, Umar, who relied totally on his father for his monthly follow up at a psychiatric hospital in Kano, where he receives expensive medications.
In addition, Zainab’s unborn child has also been deprived of its father.
Both the KAROTA officer and the driver of the Golf car were subsequently arrested and detained by the Kano Police Command.
About a week earlier, some KAROTA officials had also flagged down a trailer truck at Ibrahim Taiwo Road by Bello Road roundabout and attempted to arrest the driver on a charge of unlawfully using additional headlamps.
It was learnt that the KAROTA personnel ordered the driver, Kabiru Muhammad to park but before he could comply, one of them reportedly requested to drive the truck, a demand the driver refused.
Without warning, the angry traffic official insulted Mr Muhammad just as another hit him on the head with a stick, causing him a serious injury from which blood gushed out and covered his face and clothing.
In protest at the maltreatment of their colleague, other truck drivers turned off their engines in the middle of the road, causing a massive traffic gridlock that was only cleared after the arrival of police operatives who arrested the errant KAROTA officials.
On August 15, 2019, a magistrate court sentenced a KAROTA official to jail after he was found guilty of hitting one Hassan Zamzam with a stick in the leg and inflicting a fracture on him.
The victim was attacked by the angry KAROTA officer for allegedly beating traffic.
Kano Focus reports that the air waves in Kano are replete with complaints on excesses of KAROTA officers on the roads, especially their act of carrying sticks which they routinely use to smash heads and windshields of motorists, tricycle riders and other vehicle owners who dared to cross paths with them.
The renewed vigour of KAROTA officials in assaulting motorists manifested since the appointment of the agency’s new Managing Director, Bappa Babba DanAgundi, a former lawmaker at the Kano state House of Assembly, who failed in his re-election bid during the 2019 general elections.
It was under Mr DanAgundi’s leadership that KAROTA operatives started using sticks that are painted in the yellow and black colours of the agency to assault motorists and other road users who violate traffic rules.
Commercial drivers often complain of being extorted and forced to pay exorbitant fines, which are higher than those charged by any of the federal agencies that supervise road safety.
As a result, many commercial motorists have stopped transporting traders to Kano, causing a sharp decline in commerce and trade, a situation that threatens the economic prosperity of the state.
Since it was established in 2014 by former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, KAROTA has been a fiery traffic outfit that attracts anger and hatred due to its persistent clashes with motorists in the course of enforcing traffic rules.
Even though it has succeeded in restoring sanity and instilling discipline in Kano’s erstwhile lawless motorists, recently, the agency has been accused of contradicting its own motto: “Sanity and Safety” by chasing moving vehicles to the point of causing accidents and in some cases leading to serious injuries or outright loss of lives.
Observers have also pointed out that while KAROTA is harsh on poor and weak road users especially commercial vehicle owners who are struggling to make ends meet, they often fail to punish powerful politicians and security agencies who move in convoys and break traffic rules with impunity.
“This leaves us with no option that to believe that the rules are meant to punish only the weak and the poor and also serve as a means of extorting and further impoverishing them, while allowing the rich and powerful to do as they please,” a driver Garba Adamu told our correspondent.
“The government should overhaul KAROTA in order to make them more humane in their operations,” he added.
However, in his reaction, the KAROTA Managing director Bappa Babban Danagundi has explained why personnel of the agency carry sticks on the roads while controlling traffic in Kano city.
Dan-Agundi said KAROTA officers are using sticks to protect themselves from attacks by angry motorists and other road users who are not happy with how the traffic officials conduct their duty.
He said many KAROTA personnel have been attacked by errant motorists, adding that some of them are still in hospital with fractures and other serious injuries.
Although Dr. Dan-Agundi admitted that using weapons is against the laws of KAROTA, he however, pointed that the Nigerian Constitution has given citizens the right to defend themselves from harm including government officials.
He also said that apart from restoring sanity on Kano roads, KAROTA officials have been commended by security agencies for arresting a fake soldier and handing him over to the appropriate authority for prosecution.
Shara: Kano community where nobody has primary school certificate
By Nazifi Dawud
Three years ago, officials of the Kano state government as well as representatives of a non-governmental organization gathered on a small parcel of land beneath a giant tree in Shara–a remote farming village tucked deeply into Sumaila local government area of Kano state.
The aim of the meeting was to build a classroom block for the over 500 school-age children who were forced to stay at home or engage in hawking due to absence of a school in the village.
It was in a bid to address this concern that then Deputy Governor of Kano State, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, who doubled as the state Commissioner for Education, sent representatives to the village to assure residents that a school would be provided for their children.
Kano Focus reports that the nearest school to Shara community was located more than seven kilometers in neighbouring Matigwai village, which is separated by a ditch that often becomes over-flooded during rainy season. Currently, classes no longer hold at the community school because of the rain season.
Residents told our correspondent that when dry season sets in, children as young as five had to trek the seven kilometer distance to access the school. They added that the footpath that leads to Matigwai village is also full of thorny bushes that put the children at risk of snake bites and other harms.
It was gathered that for decades, none of the residents in Shara village was able to acquire a primary school leaving certificate due to lack of a school in the community.
At the gathering in Shara, which took place precisely in March 2016, government officials at both state and local levels made promises to erect a fully equipped classroom block on a larger piece of land donated by the community members for a school.
Idris Aliyu Rimi, the Education Secretary of the Local Education Authority (LEA) in Sumaila local government council, had told Daily Trust then that the government had not forgotten about the Shara school project.
“You should tell the community members that we are aware of their plight. But as you know, education is a costly venture. There are no projects going on anywhere because there are no funds. So, let them allow their children to continue attending the community school since a teacher has been dispatched,” he had said.
Also, Umar S. Muhammad Kibiya, the Permanent Member 1 of SUBEB, then had also told the newspaper that Shara village would get a classroom block by 2017 as the project was already included in the 2017 budget.
“The village lacks a school because of a river or valley that prevents children from attending schools (elsewhere) especially during the rainy season.
“I reported the issue to the executive chairman and he directed the Director of Physical Planning and the Director, Planning and Statistics to include Shara village in our action plan for 2017 to build a classroom to accommodate the children. By 2017, Shara would enjoy a classroom by God’s grace,” he had said.
However, despite all these promises, Kano Focus reports that three years later, Shara community is still operating a makeshift school under a tree without instructional materials.
“All the promises that were made to us by the government officials have vanished into thin air. Our children are losing interest in education because they have been deceived over and over again by our leaders. We want our children to be educated but the government has abandoned us,” Dayyabu Musa, a resident told journalists.
Another resident, Rabilu Musa, said even the teacher that was dispatched to the makeshift school became bored and stopped coming.
“Our children are now staying at home. They can’t go to the school in Matigwai because they cannot cross the ditch which is flooded by rain water. It is too dangerous to cross even for an adult,” he said.
Even though they were literally abandoned by government, members of Shara community have gotten assistance from the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), in order to maintain the makeshift community school.
On September 9, 2019, CITAD donated instructional materials including books, sets of uniforms and a board to the Shara school to encourage the children to continue with classes.
In his remarks, Sagir Ado, a representative of CITAD, lamented how the care-free attitude of government officials towards education is causing backwardness in Kano state.
“For three years, nobody brought a single building block in the name of constructing a classroom after series of promises. We have sent letters to lawmakers at both the state and national assembly on the need to build a school in Shara. But all our efforts have ended in vain,” he said.
“If we continue like this, the residents in this village would lose interest in education. This is why we are supporting them to sustain this makeshift school in spite of the challenges.
However, Mukhtar Uba Sumaila, a representative of the Local Education Secretary, Idris Aliyu Rimi, begged the community to be patient, promising that a teacher would be dispatched to the community school while efforts would be made to provide a classroom structure in the village.
“There is a 17-member committee called the SBMC being formed at every school. I’ll guide you on how to set up this committee so that the school can access benefits. I was informed that you have donated a plot of land for a proper school.
“Through the SBCM committee, you can have audience with the chairman of Sumaila local government area Ismaila Hamisu Rimi to discuss how a classroom block can be erected. In addition to this, your children can also benefit from the ongoing free feeding program” he said.
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