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Nigeria's Minister for Women Affairs Apologizes For Threats to Victims of Sexual Harassment Case


Minister for Women Affairs. Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye. (Photo: Punch)

On Sunday, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, the Minister for Women Affairs, issued an apology regarding the controversy surrounding her comments in a viral video concerning the sexual harassment scandal at the University of Calabar. In her statement, she emphasized her dedication to pursuing justice.


Furthermore, she reiterated her commitment to protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of Nigerian women, pledging to seek justice whenever their rights are violated.

This response came 24 hours after a coalition of more than 500 gender rights activists, operating under the banner of Womanifesto and led by Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, demanded a retraction and public apology.


The organization expressed serious concerns about the minister's remarks in the UNICAL sexual harassment case and their potential impact on the interests and safety of vulnerable women and children in Nigeria.


In the video, the minister also suggested that some individuals might be using and manipulating the students to remove Prof. Cyril Ndifon from office and take his place.

Reportedly, in the trending video, the minister threatened UNICAL students with severe consequences, including imprisonment, if they continued pursuing the sexual harassment case against Prof. Ndifon. She argued that since the female students had stated they were not raped, this meant they were not sexually harassed.


The minister in a statement sent to The PUNCH on Sunday in Abuja emphasized her “unwavering dedication to upholding due diligence and the rule of law, recognizing that justice and fairness are the fundamental principles upon which equitable societies are built.”


She said, “This declaration comes in response to recent public discussions and reactions by concerned Nigerians regarding the unfolding situation at the University of Calabar, involving the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Cyril Ndifon, and sexual harassment allegations levelled against him.


“I wish to express my sincere apologies to those who were offended by my comments and actions regarding the sexual harassment scandal at the University of Calabar. This is extremely regrettable as my intentions were sincere and aligned with my consistent advocacy for the welfare of Nigerian women and the pursuit of justice.


“I stand for all Nigerian women and I stand for justice, and it is my hope that we can work together to actualize the dream of a country where women’s rights are respected and protected, and where our daughters feel safe in institutions of learning.”


In a recent appearance on AIT, the Minister reassured that her Ministry would vigorously seek justice for those who have been impacted by these issues.


Threatening victims in a rape case can have several negative and far-reaching effects on victims of sexual violence in Nigeria including: Re-Traumatization, Silencing Victims, perpetuating a Culture of Impunity, Undermining Trust in the Justice System, Obstructing Accountability, Negative Societal Impact, Psychological Impact on Society.


It is essential to create an environment where survivors of sexual violence feel safe to report incidents, seek support, and pursue justice without fear of reprisals. This requires a comprehensive approach, including legal protections for survivors, awareness campaigns, counseling and support services, and efforts to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.





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