Managements of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and the Foursquare Gospel Church have suspended Boniface Igbeneghu, former sub-dean, Faculty of Arts and alleged head pastor, exposed in a 13-minute video documentary released by the BBC Africa Eye, yesterday.
UNILAG authorities also barred him from the campus located in Akoka, Yaba.
Ibenegbu and another lecturer of the University of Ghana were caught in sting operations making sexual demands to offer admission to two ‘students’.
The one-year investigation titled ‘Sex for Grades’ posted on the BBC Youtube channel and seen by Daily Sun, is part of a broader one that uncovers the sex for grade problem faced by female students in West African tertiary institutions.
Nine months of interviewing current and former students led the investigative team to Dr. Igbeneghu, who was caught on camera making amorous advances at an undercover reporter, Mordi Kiki, who posed as an admission seeker.
He had invited the undercover journalist who posed as a 17-year-old admission seeker to his office for ‘tutorials’ and at their first meeting asked: “How old are you? Don’t you know you are a beautiful girl? Do you know I am a pastor and I am in my 50s but if I want a girl of 17 years, all I need is a sweet tongue and put some money.”
A few days after the first meeting, Dr. Igbeneghu invited the ‘student’ for a second meeting where they held prayer session to lead her to “Christ.” During the prayer, he says: “Confess the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal saviour. Say, I accept that you are my Lord and God. Guide me and direct me aright. Thank you Jesus. Welcome to the kingdom of God.”
Towards the end of the prayer session, he asked her: “At what age did you start knowing men? Look, anything we discuss, be assured that your mother will not hear about it.”
While the reporter was yet to respond, Dr. Igbeneghu described the secret place where lecturers meet to ‘touch students breast’ at the staff club of the university. ‘They call the place cold room,’ he said. He then explained that ladies must pay to have good grades by giving sex as that was one of the benefits of being a lecturer. When asked about boys who have nothing to offer, he said; “It’s not free for the girls, is she not paying with her body? There is nothing good that is free.”
At the last visit, he told the undercover journalist that if she truly wanted admission in Unilag, she must be obedient.
Reacting on his Twitter handle, former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, described Ibenegbu’s action as “unacceptable.”
“I have just read the story on Sex for Grades across public tertiary institutions in many West African countries. This is unacceptable, and requires systemic strategies to put a deterrence to such behaviour.
“As a society, we cannot allow a trend that is psychologically abusive to young women to thrive. In fact, that’s a direct opposite of what a sound educational system represents.”
When contacted, UNILAG told the BBC that it dissociates itself from the allegations. The school’s spokesperson, Taiwo Oloyede, said the institution has zero-tolerance for sex harassment. He announced the shutting down of the “cold room.”
Foursquare, in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Rev. Ikechukwu Ugbaja, also condemned the alleged misconduct.
“The general public is hereby informed that as holiness and bible-believing church, we do not condone such heinous and unscriptural act among our ministers.
“We totally disassociate ourselves from the purported conduct of Dr. Igbeneghu and promise to take appropriate measure as soon as the ongoing investigation is concluded. Meanwhile, the pastor in question has been asked to step down from all ministerial assignments.”