By Isiyaku Ahmed
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, has assured that the planned amendment of the 1999 Constitution will largely protect the interest of women and the girl-child.
The statement was contained in a press statement signed by Yomi Odunuga, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the Deputy President of the Senate.
According to the statement, Senator Omo-Agege who doubles as Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, said the panel is poised for the onerous task ahead of it as many constitutional bills had been forwarded to it.
Speaking when he played host to the League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) in his office in Abuja, the Delta Central lawmaker disclosed that work on altering the constitution would commence in full swing after the Sallah break.
The statement said Omo-Agege expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
The Deputy Senator President pointed out that the rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise, adding that the panel would take into account experiences from other African countries.
He said: “Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the constitution review exercise.”
He noted that when signed into law, it would not only send a strong signal to those who may want to abuse women but ensure that students are not at the mercy of ‘sexual predators’.
“I can also tell you that this bill enjoys the overwhelming support of President Muhammadu Buhari and also the wife of the President, Dr. Aisha Buhari.
“I am also convinced that my colleagues in the House of Representatives are also in a hurry to have this bill passed because they share in our vision to protect our women, our sisters, daughters and young wives who are being daily oppressed and violated in higher institutions of learning.
“We are confident that upon transmission of this bill to the House of Representatives, the leadership and membership of the house will give the requisite concurrence”, he added.
The statement further revealed that the federal lawmaker regretted that few educators are soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as ‘’decent’’.
Senator Omo-Agege commended the President of the Senate, Senator (Dr) Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan for providing leadership, while also applauding his colleagues for cosponsoring the bill.
Earlier in her remarks, the Founder/President, League of Women Voters of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Esther Uduehi, noted that by this development, lawmakers have written their names in gold.
Represented by the National Secretary of the group, Pastor Regina Omo-Agege (Ph.D,) Uduehi called for more legislations protecting the interests of women.
She later presented a plaque to the federal legislator in recognition of his efforts at protecting the girl-child and women.
Others on the delegation include Dr. Aishatu Lemu (NILOWV Director, North Central) as well as Mrs Okiemute Olori (Chairperson, Electoral Committee).