House Of Reps Clears 3 Lawmakers Accused Of Sexual Misconduct By US Gov’t
The Nigerian House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 cleared three lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct by the United States government.
We had reported that Mr. James Entwistle, the United States ambassador to Nigeria, had written to Nigeria’s speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara alleging that three Nigerian lawmakers, Mohammed Garba Gololo of Bauchi State, Mark Terseer Gbillah, of Benue State, and Samuel Ikon of Akwa Ibom State, have been accused of attempted rape by groping a hotel staff and soliciting prostitutes in the parking lot of the hotel while on official business in the United States.
The speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara has reacted to the scandal by reminding Nigerians that the lawmakers – who all denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the US Embassy – were innocent until proven guilty. He also passed on the matter to the House’s committees of ethics and privileges and foreign affairs for investigation.
The decision of the lower chamber to exonerate them was sequel to recommendations of the joint committee.
“That Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Hon. Samuel Ikon are cleared of and exonerated from the allegations levelled against them by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria in his June 9, 2016 letter to the Rt. Hon. Speaker, for want of evidence,” the report said.
“That in the light of the foregoing, the Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs does engage with the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, with a view to finding a seamless resolution of the domestic fallout of this unfortunate incident as it relates to Hon. Mohammed Garba Gololo, Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Hon. Samuel Ikon.
“That the Ministry of Foreign affairs does write to remind the United States Embassy of the need to always adopt the official channel of communications in its dealings with any organ or institution of government.”
The house approved of the recommendations after it was put to a voice vote Yusuf Lasun, deputy speaker.
“It is with regret that I must bring to your attention the following situation. Ten members of the Nigerian national assembly recently travelled to Cleveland, Ohio, as participants in the International Visitor Leadership Programme on good governance,” the letter signed by James Entwistle in June 2015 said.
“We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the U.S. Government’s flagship professional exchange programme.
“The U.S. Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel where the representatives stayed, alleging the representatives engaged in the following behaviour: ‘Mohammed Garba Gololo allegedly grabbed a housekeeper in his hotel room and solicited her for sex.
“While the housekeeper reported this to her management, this incident could have involved local law enforcement and resulted in legal consequences for Representative Gololo. Mark Terseer Gbillah and Samuel Ikon allegedly requested hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes.
“The U.S. Mission took pains to confirm these allegations and the identities of the individuals with the employees of the hotel in Cleveland.
“The conduct described above left a very negative impression of Nigeria, casting a shadow on Nigeria’s national assembly, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and to the American hosts’ impression of Nigeria as a whole. Such conduct could affect some participants’ ability to travel to the United States in the future.
“While the majority of Nigerian visitors to the United States do behave appropriately, even a few Nigerians demonstrating poor judgement leads to a poor impression of the Nigerian people generally, though it is far from accurate. Such incidents jeopardise the ability of future programming and make host institutions and organisations less likely to welcome similar visits in the future.
“I request, in the strongest possible terms, you share this message with members of the National Assembly so they understand the seriousness of these issues, and the potential consequences of their actions, not only for themselves as individuals, but also for the future of such programmes designed to benefit Nigeria.”
Entwistle, failed to provide the video evidence he claimed to have to support his allegations against the lawmakers on two occasions. He shunned the invitation of the House panel.