“No one should be robbed of their future. When the dream slipped away I didn’t have any options. I did this story for my 19-year-old self who did not have a voice in the face of sexual harassment,” says Kiki Mordi.
The above story refers to a documentary that was released by BBC Africa Eye on Monday night after an exclusive undercover investigation into sexual harassment scandals at West Africa’s top universities.
During the year-long probe, journalists posed as students and made secret recordings of male lecturers who harass and abused young female students. Two of the region’s most prestigious schools were investigated – the University of Lagos, Nigeria (UNILAG) and the University of Ghana (LEGON).
“It’s a problem which plagues West Africa, and many countries around the world, but it’s almost never proven, until now,” Africa Eye said in a release. The inquest, Sex for Grades, unveils how lecturers – who can make or break academic careers – groom victims in academic settings, abusing their power to try to get what they want.
Academic staff members exposed for wrongdoing in the course of the investigation were featured after nine months of research and preparation, following up allegations of improper conduct from current and former students, the broadcaster said
The film showed lecturers propositioning undercover journalists, having explicit inappropriate conversations. It also exposed a secret room inside the senior staff club of one of the schools known as the “cold room”, where female students are supposedly groomed and groped by academic staff
Professors featured in the film include Dr. Boniface Igbeneghu, a senior lecturer in UNILAG’s Faculty of Arts; Dr. Samuel Oladipo, an Economics lecturer at the Lagos-based federal institution; Dr. Paul Kwame Butakor, a lecturer in the College of Education – University of Ghana; and Professor Ransford Gyampo, a political scientist and outspoken commentator at LEGON.
Moreover, the documentary features the personal story of Kiki Mordi, who led the investigation. She was allegedly harassed by a lecturer at university. And Mordi’s refusal to have sex with a lecturer for exam results shattered her dream to practice medicine.
Mordi confirmed that apart from current students who were interviewed and past ones who told their stories, every other person involved in the probe were trained journalists.
The identities of the students and the people that partook in the inquiry were well-protected as well. However, the reporter revealed that the investigation was challenging, as is normal to every other undercover filming.
“There is waiting. This was not one-off, this was something that took over a year to put together,” she told Ventures Africa. “So there were times when we are banking on facts, banking on (the) information we have waiting, a long wait.”
Mordi also mentioned that there was the fear of “imminent danger” and the team always had to reinforce security. “We were very security conscious, very very. I mean for every undercover filming, there’s always the fear of being caught to be fair, but yeah everyone on the team was as professional as they could be,” she added.
Since it was released, the documentary has generated a lot of debate and discussions by Nigerians on social media, mostly on the micro-blogging platform Twitter. Thousands, including politicians and movie stars, have called for action following the release of the report.
Three of the men featured, two in Ghana and one in Nigeria, have now been suspended pending investigations. Igbeneghu, who was put on suspension by UNILAG, has been condemned by his church, where he is a pastor.
For students who are going through a similar experience such as Mordi’s and every other victim of sexual harassment, the BBC has set up a platform with a link on its Twitter page, where they can anonymously tell their stories.
BBC Africa Eye is BBC Africa’s investigations unit, working with some of the continent’s most talented journalists. The unit makes investigative documentaries for the BBC World service, creating content for TV and online broadcasting in four languages – English, French, Hausa, and Swahili.