Minister of Women Affairs Who Does Not Know What Sexual Harassment is, Is That One A Minister of Women Affairs?

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By Uruegi Anne Agi

Recent developments at the University of Calabar (UNICAL) have raised serious concerns about the response of the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, to allegations of sexual harassment. Female students of the university have bravely come forward, alleging that the suspended Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof. Cyril Ndifon, sexually assaulted them, amidst other administrative complaints. They allege that the suspended professor, forcefully kissed them against their will in his office, fondled their breasts, and even thrust his hands into one student’s skirt! Allegations of this kind have been made against this same Professor for years unending! In 2015, the allegation was rape!


These shocking allegations led to the suspension of Prof. Ndifon and the setting up of an investigation panel. However, rather than ensuring justice for the alleged victims, Minister Uju Ohanenye has been captured on tape threatening and intimidating at least 3 of the female law students who accused Prof. Ndifon of these acts.

In one leaked recording of audio conversation, Minister Uju is heard dismissing the allegations and downplaying the gravity of the students’ claims, despite the clear violation of the law and the traumatic experiences described by the victims. Her response to one of the students who shared with her that the suspended Dean forcefully hugged her, kissed her against her will and fondled her breasts, was particularly concerning. She said, “The story you told me now does not amount to sexual harassment . . . Do you know that?”

Minister Ohanenye’s remarks demonstrate a disturbing lack of understanding of the seriousness of sexual harassment and assault. It is essential to emphasize that inserting any object into a person’s bodily orifice without their consent constitutes rape, as per the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP Law) of Cross River State. Someone clearly needs to educate the ‘Honourable Minister’!

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Her actions and statements have raised serious questions about her ability to fulfill her role as Minister of Women Affairs, an office that is meant to protect and advocate for the rights and wellbeing of women and girls. It is deeply troubling that she appears to be siding with the alleged accused rather than supporting the alleged victims.

Minister Uju’s lack of compassion, empathy, and understanding of matters related to sexual harassment and assault is deeply concerning. Her message to the girls, threatening them with jail term in one breath and inviting them to visit her in another, is shocking and troubling! Her actions have the potential to deter victims from coming forward and speaking out against their abusers, setting a dangerous precedent! Only recently have women begun to bravely speak out against sexual assault and perpetrators, and the Minister Ohanenye’s actions will take us back years!

What is puzzling is why a Minister of Women Affairs, whose main mandate is to protect women, would set out to threaten these traumatized women instead and ask them to ‘’KEEP OFF’ the panel! She even spared some time in her diatribe to instruct the girls to not just keep off the case but also to reach out to other girls who may want to appear before the Panel to testify about other allegations against Prof. Ndifon to also keep off, all the while claiming she is a mother who loved them! She further reminded the girls that as between her and the Vice Chancellor, she is ‘higher’! She was clearly exasperated when, upon her insistence that the victim visit her in Abuja, the young lady responded that she would if only her VC permitted her! Minister Ohanenye would prefer that a young student pick up her bag and visit her in Abuja, on a whim, just at her say-so! If threats don’t work, inducement should. So, Madam Minister promised to better the girls’ lives! Wonders shall never end!

This kind of behaviour clearly speaks volumes about the character of some of the persons President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has appointed as Minsters. I therefore call on President Tinubu to take swift and decisive action to investigate Minister Uju Ohanenye’s conduct and seriously consider relieving her of her ministerial appointment, as her actions are not in line with the responsibilities of her position.

Furthermore, I urge the Nigerian Bar Association to investigate Mrs. Ohanenye for professional misconduct, as her statements raise questions about her fitness to practice law.

I also call upon organizations such as FIDA (International Federation of Women Lawyers) and other human rights bodies to step forward and advocate for the physical and emotional protection of these girls and for the removal of Minister Uju Ohanenye from her position.

Lastly, I want to express my support for and encouragement to the alleged victims and all survivors of sexual harassment. Speaking up against abuse is an act of courage, and your voices should be heard and respected. Please do not be deterred by the actions of Madam Minister. Her behaviour is NOT the standard for responsible women! Stand firm and tell your truth and do not let anyone bully or bribe you into silence under the guise of encouraging you to tell the truth!

I urge all individuals and institutions to stand up for the rights and protection of women and girls and to work together to create a safer and more just society.

By Uruegi Anne Agi

Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to

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