Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday, has directed the investigation of three members of the House over an allegation by the US Government of attempted rape and soliciting for a prostitute.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas explained that the leadership of the House decided to investigate the alleged sex scandal following a formal complaint made by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle. The US has formally cancelled its visas for the three lawmakers, barring them from future trips to the United States.
Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas said, “We are in receipt of a letter from the US Ambassador, alleging misconduct by some members of the National Assembly, who attended training in the United States of America”.
“The leadership of the House has commenced its own part of the investigation. When it is concluded, we will brief Nigerians further on this issue.”
“When we say we will conduct an investigation, we will conduct it and there will be a report”
The 3 accused Reps – Mr. Mohammed Garba-Gololo (Bauchi State); Mr. Terse Gbillah (Benue State), and Mr. Samuel Ikon (Cross River State) – were members of a team of 10 lawmakers nominated to attend the leadership programme, which took place in Cleveland, Ohio, between April 7 and 13 this year.
Ambassador Entwistle, in his June 9 letter to Dogara, stated, “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.
“We received troubling allegations regarding the behaviour of three members of the delegation to the US Government’s flagship professional exchange programme.
“The US Department of State and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs received reports from employees of the Cleveland hotel, where the representatives stayed, alleging that 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 that hotel parking attendants assist them to solicit prostitutes.”
The affected lawmakers have however dismissed the allegation as “baseless and untrue” when the Speaker first sought their explanations.
The accused lawmakers have been informed about their visa cancellations in writing, by the US embassy.
One of the lawmakers, Gbillah, wrote to Ambassador Entwistle on Thursday, accusing the US of not giving the three members fair hearing.
He threatened to immediately institute legal actions against the US Government, the Ambassador and the Marriot Hotel Brand, among others for damages.
Part of Gbillah’s letter, which was dated June 16, read, “Without conclusive evidence of any sort or contact with any of the accused individuals, the US State Department and US Embassy in Nigeria have less than six days after your letter to the Speaker, gone ahead to revoke the US visas of the accused individuals based on hearsay from the employees of the hotel in Cleveland.
“Affected individuals received correspondence from the US Embassy on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, indicating the denial of their US visas and requesting that they bring their passports with the current US visa to the Embassy.”
The letter was copied to Dogara, the US Secretary of State, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Cleveland Council of World Affairs, and the President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International.
Another of the accused lawmakers, Ikon claimed that the allegation against him was not only untrue but also a case of mistaken identity.
He stated, “My attention has been drawn to the publication, alleging an act of impropriety against me by the US Mission in Nigeria.
“I wish to state unequivocally that this is false and definitely not me.
“This, to me, is a case of mistaken identity and I have already instituted measures both legally and diplomatically to clear my name and the institution I represent.