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.
Take care of rape victims as you punish rapists – Activist
Aisha Ado Abdullahi, is a lawyer and the chairperson of a Coalition against Rape and Violence (CARAV).
The Coalition comprises of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), as well as the Rights Based Association (RBA).
In this exclusive interview with Kano Focus’ Mukhtar Yahya Usman she speaks about measures to punish rapists and how to take care of the victims.
Recently, some rapists have been sentenced to jail but critics wonder why they are being given the minimum sentence. How do you react to that?
Well, you see, I don’t blame the general public for accusing judges because they are not really aware of what the position of the law is, and what the challenges are.
You see as much as we fight to see that prosecution is smoothing out and made very clear and easy and then we get maximum punishment, we will not close our eyes to the fact that there are situations – we have had situations where innocent people or innocent men are accused of rape.
So you see there is this general saying if I may put it that way ‘it’s better for you to set free a hundred offenders than to imprison or punish one innocent person’.
So as much as judges want to do the right thing but they are still, they must go by the provisions and the evidence that are brought before them.
If you bring a case of rape and you don’t have a strong case there – is no strong evidence that points to that accused person – so what do you expect the judge to do?
If the judge feels that okay may be for what he has seen as circumstantial evidence, may be the witnesses have given testimony that may be strong, then the judge would look at it and punish the offender with lesser punishment than the maximum punishment. You have not had any confessional statement; you don’t have any strong evidence -medical report that points at him.
May be he even defended himself by giving evidence that he wasn’t even at the place where he was accused of being in the first place.
So there are certain things that the judge will weigh but the general public or the onlooker thinks that aaah this person is accused of rape, he has been arrested why won’t the judge punish him?
The judge is under a duty to look closely and use the judges’ discretion because a case might look to you and I like a very strong case, right, but when the judge looks closely at the evidence and the provision of the law, the judge might feel compelled not to give the maximum punishment, even if like I said these strong evidence have been brought before him, there might be some loopholes.
It is up to the judge, but then for a coalition like us, one of the things that we do is to follow the case closely to look at all the evidence that has been brought before us, because we are all, we can have copies or we can all sit through the matter – we read through them and understand them.
When the judge pronounces his judgment we can understand on what basis – usually judges try to explain the basis of their judgment.
But there are a lot of cases where you have loopholes, it may be on the look of it on the surface it may look like a strong case or a weak case, but with those loopholes when you go into details of the case and evidence you may be able to understand that okay this is a clear case of where you cannot really pronounce the maximum punishment or where everything is very straightforward and clear.
But some of the sentenced rapists had confessed to the crime and still did not get the maximum sentence.
Oh well, this is the case that you hardly see the judge give minimal sentence – they have confessed.
When you follow the story there might be loopholes.
For example, there are people who would confess to an offense but when you follow the circumstances that led to the confession they might have been tortured, we have had that situation where because of torture may confess and even if the story tends to be true but because of the way the confession was pulled out of them it would affect the weight of the confession.
We have had of a lot of cases – even police are aware that there are a lot of circumstances – where an innocent person will confess to having done an offense because of the rate of torture.
The person might have been tortured to the point where they might say ahhh I did it just to be left alone … for them to stop torturing him.
So because of these kinds of situations judges are very careful even when they have a confession they will look at the circumstances of the confession behind that confession, they would look at demeanor – that why it is good to bring the accused person before the judge – the judge will study them and see whether this person, from what I am observing might have been tortured into confessing.
So if there is any sign of that, so even with the confession statement, the judge will pronounce a sentence or judgment but it will not be the maximum.
It is like having the middle ground. I’m not setting you free because you have confessed to an offense and there are some evidences that show that you did but then because you have been tortured into this confession so I will reduce, yes.
And that is one of the reasons why those people who promoted this review in the law, you know before 14 years was maximum, right? So it’s because of this situation where the punishment needs to be made to look very serious because of the seriousness of the offense, so that’s why it was upgraded to give 14 years as minimum.
So whatever it is, a 40 year old who has committed this offense and is punished would not be punished for less than 14 years. Minimum punishment is 14 years maximum is life – and life means 20 years – that’s what life imprisonment means.
So you see those of us that are now agitating and were happy with the fact that the House of Assembly in Kano is now working towards making life or 20 years to be the minimum, let the maximum sentence be death punishment because like you noted yourself the incidents of these cases are increasing so the government need to pass the strong message that we mean business – Anybody caught and convicted can be killed.
As are lawyer and Human Rights activist how do you see the House of Assembly’s move to castrate rapists?
It’s a good development, but then let me also pose this question; if death sentence is a solution would we be having cases of armed robbery?
So this is one way to look at it.
Even if today we have a law in Kano that say that rapists be killed when they are convicted do we really believe that would stop the cases of rape?
So as lawyers we welcome this development, yes we need to have that kind of law but we also have to have in mind that that is not the beginning of an end of it.
It is like you have, let me put it in this way; in this pandemic situation like you have the symptoms.
We have symptoms right? You are coughing or you have headache and you say okay let me take paracetamol, tomorrow you take paracetamol, next tomorrow you ask your pharmacist give me something very strong and they give you ibuprofen for example and you don’t feel it for the next two days and the third day it will come.
So we have this situation of rape incidents – we have the punishment for it and now we are saying we want stronger punishment but then have we looked at our society or our community to see what is the cause?
With that headache if you don’t go and test yourself to really know what the case is no matter what the paracetamol or ibuprofen you keep taking, in fact it will make matters worse for you.
Because the more you ingest the chemical in your system the worse it becomes.
But when you go and get yourself tested and you see that it is malaria or it is COVID-19 then you take the right medication for the malaria or COVID-19 then you get rid of that headache for a long time, right?
What I’m saying now is that, even if today we have a law that says that judges must convict and sentence all offenders – rapists – to death and we have it and it begins to be implemented, how are we sure that that would stop rape in our communities?
So this is a question for us to ponder over.
My take is that yes the castration is also part of the punishment if you castrate – I even read somewhere – what if the offender is a woman?
So a woman can rape?
(Laughter). Well, it is still contentious.
We are still arguing whether women can rape or not.
It all depends on what we can prove.
But the point here is that yes we can have castration as punishment, we can have death sentence as punishment, it may serve but it will not be the total solution.
It will help in a certain way, it will scare off intending or people who are even thinking of doing it, yes, but then so long as we do not take care of the cause of these issues from the beginning – as long as we do not go to the root of it and look at what is causing it and deal with it – whatever remedy that we are pronouncing or that we are providing will not entirely save us.
I want to give you an example, there is a country right now as we speak, because of the rate of rampant rape especially against young children what they did was okay yes we have death sentences but it is not helping us we are still having these cases, so they devised a way, I haven’t seen the details of it, I think I heard it over the news, so I want to see the details of the provision.
What they have done is that as part of punishment, a person can be allowed to go home but the person must wear a badge “I’m a rapist” and that badge has a chip on it like a security some kind of device you must wear.
If you do not wear it, if you step outside your house and you are not wearing it, it will send a signal that you have removed it, that it has been kept somewhere.
It will show them that you are going outside but you are leaving the badge at home.
And you must wear it wherever you go that means everybody will see you and they will see you are sex offender.
So it’s a way of naming and shaming the offender, so that drastically reduced the incidents of rape, because everybody is afraid of, okay they now I don’t even need to go to prison, I don’t need to get killed but everybody in the community would know that I’m a rapist because I have to wear this badge so I won’t even go and do it.
It is a creative innovation of a form of punishment that can help because they notice that this thing, even this kind of punishment is not helping us so what do we do?
They sat down.
So one thing we need to do, this initiative by the House of Assembly is welcome but then we don’t we have the alternative like what we are trying to do in CARAV now because we have all the stakeholders we want to sit down look at our society and our communities, look at what is causing it, then we will brainstorm and come up with innovative solutions to support these laws, because the laws need our support even if we have the maximum punishment and we have the means of implementing them but we still need to have some different ways of looking at it.
We can’t keep doing something the same way and expect a different result.
So this is what we are facing now we have to sit down and see what the problem is.
This thing is increasing – as much as we are increasing punishment the offenses are also increasing – we have to come back take back look at the situation.
As long as people like us are active and functional in the society and communities definitely we will devise we will come up with the solution.
So that is what CARAV is working on.
But if the House of Assembly passes a law to castrate rapists wouldn’t it contravene the UN Convention against Torture?
Well! This matter has been contentious over time, you know even death sentence right, there are a lot of, there are some organizations, human right organizations that are also fighting against death sentence, so no matter what, there are certain, there are implications to in any kind of punishment.
That is one of the reasons that some countries are devising alternatives, so if it has anything to do with life or touching anybody part in a negative way a lot of Human Rights organizations will look at it and fight.
Yes castrating is being looked at as a form of torture just like the execution of a human life – it would be subject to controversy and debate over time even if it is included in our laws.
A person, for example, a young girl of 11 has been brutally attacked by a strong young man of 40.
So, if for example that man is being sentenced to life and he serves for 20 years, and then he gets a parole or pardon, he will be 60, right?
So when he comes out will he be still able to commit rape or not?
Because we have had instances, people will still come out and commit rape.
A 60 year old can still rape – we have had 70 years old that has raped.
So this is why the people who are agitating for castration are agitating for it.
A lot of people repent and change their ways but then a lot will still go back and still do it because they have the tools – according to Governor El-Rufai – he still has the tool to commit rape.
So that is why those who are agitating for castration are agitating for castration.
But will castration be constitutional?
It will be definitely subject to debate.
Definitely! So we will cross that bridge when we get there.
But then you see, look, when you come to think of it, when you talk of rape all attention 90% is on the perpetrator.
What about the victim?
We don’t look at the victim – even if you get maximum punishment what will happen to that 11 year girl who has been damaged for life?
One of the things that we want to advocate is for the victim to also be given attention because if we have a strong institution that gives them the right attention it will also help them, because look, the rate at which we are going some years now if we are not careful we will have a great number of our society that have been raped.
Now, I’m sure you know of this also, the rising cases of mental health challenges.
A lot of people have issues.
You’ll see someone and you’ll think they are normal – may be they have a job or they are walking along the street – but they have been damaged through some kind of experience like this since they were young.
And you’ll not know.
They will do something and you’ll be shocked but they are not in their right mind even though they are trying to be like normal people, to associate with normal people.
So yes, let us look at how they punish offenders but let us give even more attention to the victims and support them.
Support in terms of rehabilitation means they should be put through serious counseling, their medical and mental health should be given extra attention too and whatever circumstance that led them to be victims should be also looked at.
You know a lot of times we say poverty is an issue that gets them to be vulnerable, so we look at their circumstance.
If they are so poor that they can’t even – may be a young girl who couldn’t even go to school because she is sent to hawk that’s why she got to be raped, then we can help to get her into school, get her to know that she can make herself useful to herself and the society.
If it is the circumstance where it’s because – you know we have this issue especially in our community – where a man will marry a woman she will give birth to one or two children he will divorce her marry another woman and keep all the children with him you will see a man that is keeping a seven year old, eight year old 10 year old that their mother is not in the house so they are being subjected to all sorts of maltreatment – they will be the ones that may be a step mother or a grandmother will send them out to buy sugar at 9pm and then if she is attacked she doesn’t care.
So if we have cases like that then we try to see how we can put them under the care of the person – may be the mother or a person – who will really take care of them.
There are so many ways to address the issue but then if we don’t really put it on our priority.
We will not consider that, a lot of times you punish the offender but still leave that girl under the care of that stepmother who even allows her to be raped in the first place or you don’t try to get them in school you feel you have punished the offender that is all, but then they are still vulnerable.
So we have to look at that too.
Why I joined the Army – Kano female recruit
Mukhtar Yahya Usman
A female Kano-born soldier, Amina Nuhu says she joins the Nigerian Army in order to fulfill her mother’s wishes.
Ms Nuhu, 20, an indigene of Gyaranya quarters, Kano City is the only Hausa woman among the 452 female soldiers in the 79th Regular Recruit Intake at the Zaria Depot of the Nigeria Army.
The new recruit completed her seven months training at Chindit Barracks, Zaria Depot on June 27, 2020.
Private Nuhu told Kano Focus that her mother wanted her to join the Army after her elder brother failed to get recruited.
“My mother urged me to join the military, as my brother failed to get recruited after several attempts.
“I’ve always wanted to be a soldier, but what encouraged me the most was my mother’s support, which is very rare among Hausa people”
“I’ve joined the military to fulfill her wish and I will work hard to make her proud of me.” She said.
Amina Nuhu was born in 1999 at Gyaranya quarters, Gwale local government in Kano metropolis.
She attended Warure Primary School from 2005 to 2010.
She attended Army Day Girls Secondary School, Kano from 2012 to 2017 where she developed interest in joining the military.
However, she first enrolled into the School of Management Studies, Kano State Polytechnic to study Marketing.
Ms Nuhu had to drop out due to financial challenges.
“In 2007, I was admitted to Kano state polytechnic to study Marketing.
“I finished my first year successfully but failed to get money for the second year registration.
“Though I tried hard to secure the funds, I was forced to drop out when I failed to do so.” She said.
Ms Nuhu, who is an orphan, said becoming a soldier will allow her to cater for herself and take care of her mother.
Social media controversy
Her decision has however caused some controversy on social media platforms.
While some commentators praise her for following her passion, others wonder if she is really a Hausa woman and wonder if she will ever get married.
Ms Nuhu told Kano Focus that she is aware of the social media critics.
She said people in her community are happy that she has joined the Army.
“Since I became a soldier, my neighbors have been cheering me and giving me words of courage.
“People have been coming to our house to wish me well.
“In fact, whenever I go out, people approach me wanting to take a selfie – I’m very happy with the way they treat me.” She said.
A true indigene of Kano
She also debunked speculations that she is not an indigene of Kano state.
“My Father was born in Dan Hassan village, Kura local government – even his father was born there.
“Also my mother was born in Fagge area of Kano metropolis.
“I was born in Gyaranya quarters in Gwale local government inside the Kano city wall.
“So I laugh at people who say I’m not truly Hausa.”
Private Amina Nuhu of the Nigerian Army also assured those concerned about her marital prospects that she is already engaged to a fellow soldier.
Election rigging, poor governance breed insecurity in the North – Junaidu Muhammad
A former member of House of Representatives in the second republic, Junaidu Muhammad has attributed the spate of insecurity in Northern Nigeria to election rigging that brought irresponsible leaders.
The former parliamentarian said this in an exclusive interview with Kano Focus on the security challenges ravaging the region.
He observed that Northerners have for long tolerated to be cheated by constituted authorities in the region.
Mr Muhammad argued that Northerners should be bold and get courage to fight injustices meted against them.
“First and foremost, the issue is not just the question of security, is the issue of governance.
“We have been very, very irresponsible in the way we allowed ourselves to be governed particularly in the Northeast and Northwest.
“We are freemen who are behaving like slaves.
“We have had election rigged several times in most parts of the country particularly in the North.
“I believe people should have the courage to fight when they feel they have been cheated – whether by people from outside the region or their respective zones,” he said.
The politician cum activist observed that the country has been experiencing insecurity for a long period of time due to injustice by those who hold power.
Mr Muhammad said he does not respect those who accepted injustice over generations especially in the Northwest and Northeast.
“As far as I am concerned, there are heroes and villains in every struggle.
“To me a hero is a kind of person who is not prepared to accept injustice, who is prepared to put his own life on the line in order to liberate himself.
“If you allow people to be cheated all the time, and you believe some people have divine rights, they have been decreed by God to come and cheat you, and you think that is virtue, go ahead and do whatever you want to do, don’t involve me,” Mr Muhammad said.
Need for sacrifice
The parliamentarian who described Kano as the most politically advanced state in Sub-Saharan Africa recalled how late Malam Aminu Kano mobilized people to stand firm against unjust leaders.
He said Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Jigawa states have attained their present status due to the struggle of late Aminu Kano who brought change against the status quo.
Mr Muhammad advised citizens to take their fate in their hands by identifying capable persons who can lead them to emancipate themselves from the bond of irresponsible leadership.
“We have a historical precedent; Aminu Kano did a struggle for 40 years.
“He was able to mobilize the kind of people who are mostly uneducated rural peasants and he engineered the change which made Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa and Katsina states where they are today.
“I have to tell you in the case of Kano, Kano in terms of political awareness, is the most politically advanced area in the whole of Africa South of the Sahara.
“If people are not prepared to be mobilized, if they are not ready to sacrifice, if they have slave mentality, there is nothing you can do about them.
“The question now is to find out from the people whether they are the ones who are not interested in the struggle or they are waiting for leaders from heaven or somewhere else to come and lead them. “But if they are determined, there are always leaders who will emerge and who will give them the necessary political leadership,” Mr Muhammad advised.
20 Kano LGs prone to flooding
Rape: Kano court sentences 70 year old rapist to death by stoning
774,000 jobs: Applicants accuse Kano committee chair of favoritism
Kano Gov’t warns health workers against charging HIV patients
Prayer money: Why I will not prosecute Ali Baba – Muhuyi
Exiled Kano emirs and their privileges
17 KUST Wudil lecturers become professors
Emir of Kano gets new appointment
Kano Assembly stalls Ganduje’s bill to elevate Emir Bayero, return Dan Agundi as Kingmaker
Oxford University appoints Emir Sanusi academic visitor
There are no upcoming events at this time.
Headlines10 months ago
Meet Abubakar Terab: Sheikh Daurawa lookalike in ‘dancing video’
Headlines10 months ago
AKTH gets acting CMD
Headlines10 months ago
Abducting, converting our children to Christians ‘very dangerous’–Kano Elders
Headlines11 months ago
Apologize to Pantami or risk the wrath of Allah–JIBWIS warns Kwankwaso